Fun Family Trips · Travel with Kids

2021 Wisconsin Dells Chula Vista Resort Review for Families

Are you searching for the perfect Wisconsin Dells Resort for your family? A fun water park hotel option is Wisconsin Dell’s Chula Vista Resort. It’s set off the beaten path in a quiet wooded setting along the Wisconsin River. Although it’s only 7 minutes to Downtown Wisconsin Dells you’ll feel far away from the overcrowded and touristy areas the Dells is known for.

Here guests can enjoy the indoor and outdoor water parks, play in the arcade, stroll the pretty riverwalk, golf, good restaurants and enjoy relaxing family time together. With a variety of Chula Vista room option from suites to condos to villas your sure to find a room that fits your families needs.

Although Chula Vista Resort is not as large as the Kalahari or Wilderness resort it’s also not as crowded and has more of a relaxing family vacation vibe. On our family’s stay, we really liked that the resort was less crowded leaving shorter lines at the water park and quicker reservations at the restaurants.

Check out our full Chula Vista Resort review and see if this is the spot for your next family vacation or weekend getaway.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Family Review of Wisconsin Dells Chula Vista Resort

2021 Review of Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells for Kids. Find out if this is the best Wisconsin Dells Resort for your family. Tips on visiting the resort and reviews of the indoor & outdoor waterparks, restaurants, hotel rooms, activities and more.

Our family has had two fun visits to the Chula Vista Resort and have really enjoyed ourselves. We’ve stayed both in the condos and the standard rooms and found both to be great.

Let’s go through all the details to help you decide if Chula Vista Resort is the right Wisconsin Dells hotel for your family.

Chula Vista Location

Top Things to do at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

The Chula Vista resort is located in a quiet area nestled along the Wisconsin River. The back of the resort overlooks the woods and the water, while the front overlooks their golf course and water park.

It’s only a quick 7-minute drive to get to the busy Downtown Wisconsin Dells area. The difference between this resort and the other big water parks like the Wilderness Resort and Great Wolf Lodge is there are not any stores or restaurants located outside the resort. You will need to drive to get to any amenities outside the park.

This is why Chula Vista has more of a relax getaway feel than the other Wisconsin Dells Resorts located by more touristy areas of the Dells.

You truly feel like you are away from all the hustle and bustle when your at Chula Vista.

Address: 1000 Chula Vista Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells, 53965

Chula Vista Resort Map

The resort has several buildings with hotel rooms and condos stretched out along the Riverwalk. In the middle, you will find indoor and outdoor water parks. Making it an easy walk from most hotel rooms to the park. The restaurants are scattered throughout the property.

There is also an underground tunnel to the waterparks from the condo buildings. This is a great feature in the wintertime.

Resort Map for Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

Here is a link to the Chula Vista Resort Map to check it out for yourself.

Chula Vista Water Park

There is both an indoor and outdoor water park at this hotel. Both are located in the same area in the middle of the parking lot. In fact, to get to the outdoor water park you’ll need to walk through the indoor water park.

I would say overall this water park is geared toward younger families meaning 13 and younger. If you are only bringing teenagers they will be bored and probably enjoy the Wilderness Resort or Kalahari better. But if you fit in the 13 and younger age group it will be really fun for the kids.

Los Rios Indoor Water Park

The indoor water park is not as large as Wilderness Resort or Great Wolf Lodge but it does have some really fun aspects kids will love. Plus as our kids were older on our second trip we felt more comfortable letting them run around on their own because it wasn’t so big. They really liked that alot.

The décor for the indoor water park is a giant rain forest theme. Inside there is a large toddler area with two small slides and water features. For older children, there is a huge climber area with water splashing and a huge bucket to dump water.

There is also a lazy river and sports pool for the kids with lily pads to walk across and basketball hoops.

You’ll find several indoor slides plus a raft racing slide against your friends, and a huge toilet bowl water ride.

Water slides at Chula Vista indoor water park.

The most unique ride is a water coaster that races around the second floor through the water and tunnels. This was our kid’s favorite ride and was a really fun feature.

Pool Towels – They do provide towels at the hotel but you need to ask for them when you scan your wristband at the front of the indoor waterpark. It’s the only place to get pool towels in the whole water park.

Pool Lockers– There are lockers located in the indoor pool area you can rent keep all your stuff safe while your swimming.

Changing Rooms – There are changing rooms with bathrooms located in the indoor pool area.

One downside is you enter the indoor water park through the arcade which kind of felt like Disney when they make you exit through the store. So talk to your kids ahead of time about whether they can do the arcade or not. It will help set the expectations.

Overall it’s a nice indoor pool area but on the smaller side. If your headed here in the winter and can’t do outdoor pools one or two days is plenty at Chula Vista.

Outdoor Water Park

There is one main area that has most of the outdoor water park attractions. This is located off of the indoor water park. But there are also two smaller pool areas gated off right in front of the hotel.

Smaller Outdoor Pools

Sports Pool – One is a sports pool with basketball hoops and chairs around the outside. This tended to be an area for older kids to hang out swim and play basketball.

Outdoor Sports Pool at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
Sports Pool

Kiddie River – This is a perfect area for little kids to get away from all the craziness of the big water park. The Kiddie River is a lazy river with only 6 inches of water, spray features, and a small slide.

Outdoor Kiddie River for Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
Kiddie River

There are chairs set all around the pool to lounge in too. A perfect place for young families to hang out and enjoy a safer water experience.

Wave Pool
Fun Wave Pool at Chula Vista Resort outdoor waterpark for kids.

Located behind the hotel along the River Walk you’ll find the Wave Pool. The setting is really pretty and hosts Margaritas Mexican Grill and Cantina for food & drinks. It’s a nice place for families to just hang out and grab a bite to eat. You can even see the boats going by in the river from the pool patio.

The downside is the wave pool is not very big and does not have big waves. This wave pool is geared more toward younger kids. Our 10 year was bored so just keep that in mind.

Main Outdoor Pool Area

Water Slides – In the main outdoor pool area you will find a mix of waterslides for younger kids, kids in the middle, and older kids. There are a couple more intense waterslides for kids & parents with a racing track, a slide that has you going straight down, and the Howling Tornado.

Adventure Lagoon – This large pool area offers a place for families to just swim in the pool. It is also where the medium-level slides end up.

Chula Vista Resort Adventure Lagoon with outdoor pool and waterslides.
Adventure Lagoon

Splash Pad – Has a play structure in the middle with a dump bucket, geysers, and smaller water slides.

Outdoor Kiddie Splash Pad in the Adventure Lagoon area of Chula Vistas Hotel Water Park.
Splash Pad

Cabanas

Rent Cabanas at the Outdoor pool at Chula Vista Resort.

In the main outdoor pool area, you’ll find cabanas you can rent. These are a nice way to get out of the sun and have your own relaxing space. Plus it gives you a spot for your kids to find you when they are running around.

Depending on which one you get you’ll be able to watch your kids in the Splash Pad or Adventure Lagoon from the cabana.

The Beach

Outdoor Beach & Bar Area at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

Located right by the outdoor pool area is a huge beach area for families. Kids can enjoy playing in the sand while parents enjoy a drink from the Tiki bar or sit by the fire pit. Often they have a bounce house located here for the kids too.

Chula Vista Activities

There are several non water activities for the kids to do while your at Chula Vista Resort.

Arcade

Fun Arcade at Chula Vista Hotel in Wisconsin Dells.

There is a medium-size arcade for the kids located by the entrance to the indoor water park. Plus tons of prizes for the kids to win. This area opens 30 minutes before the water park opens and closes 30 minutes after the water park closes.

Superstition Springs Miniature Golf

Fun Miniature Golf Course at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

An 18 hole miniature golf course is located in the outdoor pool area. There are some challenging holes with waterfalls, ponds, and cute displays.

Scenic River Walk

Beautiful River Walk at Chula Vista Resort along the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin Dells.

Walk along this pretty River Walk located behind the hotel. The walk overlooks the Norway Pines and the Wisconsin River. Catch a glimpse of boats speeding by and birds in the trees. A nice spot to get away and take a relaxing walk.

There are benches set along the walk to take a break and enjoy the scenery too.

Dells Zip Line

The Dells first outdoor Ariel park with four different levels of courses. Each level has a different degree of difficulty so you can find something that works for all ages.

Sand Volleyball

There is a big sand volley ball area located next to the outdoor sports pool.

4D Action Cinema

Take a break from the water park and watch a 4D movie. They have several different movies to choose from on each visit.

Kids Activity Center

A fun place for families to do arts and crafts, play games or make something delicious. They also host family movie nights and other events so check the activity schedule when you get to the hotel.

Chula Vista Rooms – Suite, Cabanas & Villas

The Chula Vista Resort offers a variety of room choices to fit the needs of all different families.

Suites Room

The suites are standard rooms located in the main buildings along the riverfront. We liked that our Jr. Suite which had two double beds, a sofa sleeper, a small table & 2 chairs, and a balcony. It’s bigger than a standard hotel room which was nice so we could all spread out.

Condos Rooms

The condo units come in 1, 2, and 3 bedroom sizes. When we came with extended family these were great. You get a full-size kitchen, separate bedrooms, and a living room area. This let us all have a bedroom but still have a living room area to hang out when we weren’t at the water park.

There is also a Jacuzzi which was located in the living room. This was odd but the kids enjoyed playing in it.

Tip: There is an underground tunnel from the Condos and Suite rooms to get to the Indoor Pool area. This is a big advantage to these rooms, especially in the winter months. Ask for a room close to the entrance.

Villas

The Villas are located around the golf course with a pretty view. These large units offer space for up to six guests. There are loft options for kids which is a fun way to give kids their own space to play and sleep. This offers parents a chance at night to stay up later and enjoy some time to relax too.

The units have kitchenets, and living room areas to make it feel more like your own space then just a hotel room.

This is a great option for larger families or groups that want a quieter setting away from the main hotel.

Chula Vista Restaurants

There are 6 different restaurants at Chula Vista ranging from poolside food to sit-down restaurants. When we were there in June 2021 many of the restaurants had still not opened as the hotel was at half capacity.

Check before you go to see what restaurants are open. Here is what the resort offers and I indicated if it was open when we were there last.

Kilbourn City Grill is located off of the lobby and offers a sit-down option with breakfast in the morning and becomes a family-friendly sports bar at night. Think pub food for lunch and dinner. (was open in June 2021)

Kaminski’s Chop House is an upscale steak house located near the lobby. Their claim is to be one of America’s Top 10 Chophouses. (was open in June 2021)

The Tavern Restaurant is located at the Cold Water Canyon Golf Course. It offers specialized burgers and sandwiches to guests. A good spot for after a round of golf at the resort. (closed in June 2021)

Crash Landing Waterpark Snack Bar – Located off of the indoor water park. Crash Landing offers pizza, hot dogs, and burgers. Good spot to eat lunch while at the water park. There are tables both inside and outside to sit and eat. (was open June 2021)

Margarita Cantina – Fun spot by the wave pool to eat some Mexican fare and grab a Margarita for the adults. (closed in June 2021)

Cactus Outdoor Waterpark Bar and Grill – Located by Adventure Lagoon at the outdoor water park. This spot offers sandwiches and snacks plus drinks for the adults. (closed in June 2021)

Market Fresh To Go – This quick-service spot is located in the lobby to pick up pastries, muffins, donuts, and Starbucks coffee in the morning. It does tend to get a long line in the morning for coffee. At lunch try their paninis sandwiches and salads to go. (was open in June 2021)

Luigi’s Pizzeria – Order pizza delivered to your room when you’re exhausted at the end of the day and just want to relax in your room.

Things to Do in Wisconsin Dells

There are so many fun things to do in Wisconsin Dells With kids outside the water park hotels. An entertaining way to explore this area is to break up your day with activities in the Dells and pool time at the hotel.

Downtown Wisconsin Dells

If you want to get out and take a drive head to Downtown Wisconsin Dells only 7 minutes away. Here you will find a cute touristy street filled with restaurants, shops, and arcades.

We loved visiting Wild Fun Zone located on the strip. My kids really loved the glow-in-the-dark indoor miniature golf and awesome laser tag course. Just look for the building with the Gorilla on top.

Another area not to miss is the Glockenspiel Clock and Bavarian Village. Every half hour the huge cuku clock goes off and tells the story of the Pied Piper. It’s free and fun to watch while your eating ice cream or some local fudge.

You’ll also find a nice scenic river walk if you’re looking for a quiet stroll. From the walk you can see the famous Dells rocks along the river.

Get all the details in our Best Downtown Wisconsin Dells Attractions.

More Things to Do in Wisconsin Dells

Looking for more fun Wisconsin Dells Attractions to visit? There are tons of cool family-friendly things to do in Wisconsin Dells.

In the summer months, you’ll love horseback riding, the Tommy Bartlet Show, canyon rides, zip-lining, ropes courses, outdoor waterparks and more. In the winter months enjoy the many indoor amusement parks, skiing, snow tubing, and shopping.

Find out our 30 Favorite Things to Do in Wisconsin Dells any time of year and have a blast on your family vacation.

Hiking Devil’s Lake State Parks

Hiking Devil's Lake is a fun thing to do in Wisconsin Dells for Families.

Devil’s Lake State Park and Mirror Lake State Park are both located only minutes from Wisconsin Dells. Visitors will see beautiful views, take easy or challenging family hikes, go kayaking, fishing, swim at the beaches, and more.

It’s a great way to take a break from the water park and get out into nature for the day. 

What to Pack for the Water Park

Wondering what to bring with you on your trip to a water park? Here are a few things I would suggest. You can click the link to see the item I use for each category.

Make sure to grab your FREE Family Travel Packing List too so you don’t forget anything.

Free Printable Family Travel Checklist with everything you need to pack for family vacation. Be prepared to travel with kids with this handy printable checklist.

Goggles – The kids will want googles when they swim in the wave pool, Adventure Lagoon or sports pool.

Beach Bag – I like to bring a beach bag to hold our cover-ups, a book for myself, phones and water toys.

Waterproof phone case – I like to take pictures of the kids having fun so I use this waterproof case to keep my phone dry while in the pool.

Waterproof bag to hold your room key, cash, and other small items

Flip Flops – Your feet will get wet even if you’re not in the pool

More Wisconsin Dells Resort Options

There are tons of great options for Wisconsin Dells Resorts. Check out a few of our favorite Wisconsin Dells Hotels so you can compare and find the best resort for your family.

Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort. This is one of our favorites to visit because we love the extra activities like go-karts, laser tag, and indoor ropes course. Plus they have several rooms of indoor pools so there is tons to do even in the winter months.

Great Wolf Lodge – What stands out at Great Wolf Lodge is their MagiQuest Game. It’s a really cool indoor quest the kids go on to find clues and complete different levels to slay the dragon. Plus they have a really fun water park and great indoor wave pool.

KOA Wisconsin Dells – This is another option if you like to camp, have an RV or want to rent a small cabin. It has an awesome location right by downtown Wisconsin Dells and tons of amenities like a pool area.

Other Wisconsin Family Getaway Ideas – Consider Lake Geneva and Door County too when you’re planning a family vacation. Both have tons of cool family attractions you’ll love.

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Free Printable Family Travel Checklist with everything you need to pack for family vacation. Be prepared to travel with kids with this handy printable checklist.

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Parents Review of Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Everything you need to know about the hotel rooms, indoor & outdoor waterpark, activities, restaurants and more. Use this guide to decide if this is the best Wisconsin Dells Resort for your family.
Top Tips for Visiting Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. What parents need to know before you go. Plus pictures to help you decide if this is the best Wisconsin Dells Resort for your family. A full review of the resort, restaurants, indoor and outdoor waterpark, activities and more.

Fun Family Trips

Disney Saratoga Springs Resort Review 2021

Looking for an amazing place to stay while visiting Disney World? You’re going to love the newly refurbished Disney Saratoga Springs Resort in 2021. There are so many amazing room upgrades and property amenities at this Disney Deluxe Villa Resort for families.

Our family recently stayed here and wanted to share with your our Disney Saratoga Springs resort review. Everything you need to know to decide if this is the right hotel for your family vacation to Disney.

I know there are so many options of hotels in Orlando both on the property and off property which makes it hard to choose. Hopefully, this review will give you the insight you need to make your decision.

So take a look at what you can expect and watch our quick video room tour to find out if it’s worth your money to stay at Disney Saratoga Springs Resort.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Disney Saratoga Springs Resort Review & Refurbishments

2021 Best Disney Saratoga Springs Review. New pictures & video of the refurbished rooms at Saratoga Springs. Plus what to expect for dining, the pools, grounds, activities & more tips you'll want before you go. Find out if it's the right Disney Property for your Disney Vacation.

Saratoga Springs Resort is located on property at Disney World and is considered a Disney Deluxe Villa Resort. What this means is it offers similar benefits to Deluxe Resorts but has larger accommodations than a typical hotel room.

The newly refurbished rooms in 2020 & 20201 offer kitchens, living rooms, washer dryers, and private bedrooms all but in the studio rooms.

In 2020 Saratoga Springs started a complete refurbishment of the resort. All the rooms have new furniture, flooring, appliances, and pull-down murphy beds. The murphy beds are a huge plus for families with multiple children.

At the time of writing this all resort rooms except for The Carousel section have been refurbished. They are scheduled to have all the refurbishments completed by the summer of 2021.

We were so lucky to snag a refurbished room in The Paddock section and we loved it! We found it to be the perfect place to stay for our family of four on our Disney Vacation.

Let’s go through all the details of the resort to give you a full picture of what it’s like to stay here.

Is it your fist time to Disney? Make sure to read 15 Disney World Tips & Hacks Every First Time Visitors Needs.

Disney Saratoga Springs Address & Location

Main Street at Disney Saratoga Springs Resort at Disney World. A full Saratoga Springs Resort Review for families looking for a great Disney Hotel.

Saratoga Springs Resort is located on Disney property closer to Disney Springs than to the Magic Kingdom & the other Disney Parks.

Here is the exact address:

1960 Broadway, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Walking Distance to Disney Springs

The resort is in walking distance to Disney Springs over the pedestrian bridge. It’s will take about 10-15 to walk there depending on location of your building. The Congress Park & The Springs Buildings are the closest to Disney Springs.

The close proximity to Disney Springs is a big plus to families that want a night out visiting the lively restaurants and shops.

How Far is it to Disney Parks

Distance to Disney Parks from Saratoga Springs Resort.

The resort is about a 10-15 minute bus ride to all the Disney Parks. The furthest park away is Disney Animal Kingdom. If you are driving you can cut the time in half as the buses run a little bit slower.

It is not within walking distance to any of the Disney Parks. Plus it would be hard as there are not a lot of sidewalks on the roads to the parks.

If you choose to drive your resort fee covers parking to both the resort and all the Disney Parks. Which means you do not have to pay to park anywhere. This is a nice perk if you want to take a break in the day and then drive back to the parks at night.

Use our Free Printable Disney Packing List for Your Park Bag and be ready for a day at the Disney Parks. It’s everything you’ll need in an easy checklist.

Free Printable Disney Park Bag Checklist for Families. Everything you need to bring to the Disney parks for a stress-free day. Follow this easy checklist and you'll be ready for your awesome Disney Vacation.

Disney Springs Resort Map

Map of Disney Saratoga Springs Resort

Get a feel of the resort with the Saratoga Springs Resort Map. The resort is pretty spread out with 5 different sections of rooms.

They are The Springs, Congress Park, The Paddock, The Grandstand, and The Carousel.

The Springs and Congress Park are considered preferred rooms due to location, their view, and proximity to The Carriage House and Disney Springs.

The Carriage House is the main building where you check in. Here you’ll find a large pool (High Rock Spring Pool), restaurants, shops, and more. It seems overwhelming when you first get here but after a day you’ll know your way around.

Disney Vacation Club

This resort is part of the Disney Vacation Club and you can use points to get a room. You will need extra points to book the preferred room. You can also use an RCI timeshare but it is tough to get available rooms as they book up quick.

Disney Saratoga Springs Rooms

The Paddock Building at Saratoga Springs Resort on Disney Property.

The resort has 4 different types of rooms and an upgraded preferred level for each. Remember preferred level refers to the area of the resort your room is located and views.

The four types of rooms offered are a Deluxe Studio, 1 Bedroom Villa, 2 Bedroom Villa, 3 Bedroom Villa and the Treehouse Villa.

The Treehouse Villas are in a separate area that is quieter with the feel of staying in a treehouse. This is nice if you want a break from the crowds. They do have their own pool area too.

The downside to the Treehouse Villas is to get to the Disney parks you have to take a bus over to the main resort and then change buses to get to the Disney Parks. Just an extra step when your rushing in the morning with kids.

Unlike many other Disney Resorts, the rooms are not over the top with Disney decorations. It is much more subtle than other Disney Properties. We liked this but it’s a personal preference.

Another positive note they have added tons of plugs for all your electronics so it’s easier to charge all your devices.

Video of the Refurbished Rooms at Saratoga Springs

Here is a video of the rooms to give you a better view of what it looks like. Then I’ll go over each area to give you a better idea of what to expect.

1 Bedroom Villa Review

We stayed in the 1 Bedroom Villa refurbished room in The Paddock section. Let me go through what it’s like as there are similar features in the other rooms.

Foyer

Foyer Entrance to 1 Bedroom Villa at Saratoga Springs Resort.

Enter into a large size foyer for a hotel room. It even has hooks to hang up your coats or bags. We used this spot as our staging area setting out everything we would need for the next day at the parks by the door. It would be a great place to park a stroller too.

Kitchen

Full Kitchen in the 1 Bedroom Villa at Disney Saratoga Springs Resort.

There is a full kitchen in all the Bedroom Villas and Treehouse Villas. This was perfect to get breakfast ready in the morning and we even had dinner one night before heading to the pool. Everything you need is supplied from dishes to pots and pans. You don’t need to bring anything to cook.

Kitchen Table

Saratoga Springs Resort 1 Bedroom Villa kitchen table area.

In the updated rooms there is a bench kitchen table with two chairs. It’s not huge but works for a quick breakfast in the morning.

Living Room & Pull Down Murphy Bed

The living room is spacious with a large couch and coffee table that pulls up if you want to eat off of it. When it’s time for bed easily pull down the murphy bed for the kids to sleep. The bed was pretty comfortable and much better than a folded pull-out couch mattress.

We loved that when everyone was up we could put the bed away and have more room to walk around.

TV and Hidden Twin Bed

The bonus to this room is the hidden bed in the cabinet below the TV. It is a twin-size bed and was honestly my kid’s favorite spot. They fought over who got to sleep here.

This extra bed gives families one more place to sleep so the kids aren’t kicking each other all night.

The TV was large and had channels to show you the local weather and opening times for the parks. There were also lots of channels to watch.

Tip: We brought with us our ROKU Stick and plugged it into the TV so we could watch movies when we needed a break after a long day at the parks.

Bedroom

The 1 Bedroom Villa at Saratoga Springs Resort at Disney World

The main bedroom has a king bed, large TV, dresser, two-night tables, ceiling fan, and chair. It felt very spacious and you could easily add a pack in play to this room if you have little ones.

Bathrooms

The bathroom is separated into two rooms, leaving lots of space for a family to get ready in the morning. One side has a large bathtub, vanity, and closet. The closet also has a vacuum in case you need it.

The other side has a shower and small vanity with a separate toilet area. The doors all interconnect to each other, the bedroom and the kitchen area. So it’s very flexible in how you use the space.

Laundry

Rooms at Disney's Saratoga Springs offer washer & dryers in your room.

We loved that the room had a stackable washer and dryer. There is also a laundry basket and laundry detergent. The washing machine was a little loud so we set it to run while we were out at the parks for the day.

Patio Area

Outdoor Patio at Saratoga Springs Resort 1 Bedroom Villa at Disney World.

There is a cute patio area with a small table and 2 chairs. This picture was our patio area in our first floor room. The upper floors have balcony’s to sit outside.

Dining at Saratoga Springs Resort

There is a mix of dining options from a nice sit down meal to quick service restaurants and pool bars.

The Turf Club Bar & Grill

Is a nicer sit down restaurant with a view of the Golf course. This was closed in the spring so check to see if it will be open during your visit.

The Artist’s Palette

The Artist's Palette Quick Service Resturant at Saratoga Springs Resort.

A quick service restaurant located at The Carriage House by check-in. In the spring you could only order food off of your app for this area. In regular times it is a food court area with several different food choices for families.

The Paddock Grill

This pool area grill offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus bar services and drinks.

Property Amenities

The property had several cool amenities for family’s and guest to use throughout their stay.

Pools

Saratoga Springs has 2 main pools and 3 smaller pools throughout the resort.

High Rock Springs Pool

The High Rock Springs pool is located in the Carriage House area by the main check-in. The large pool has a fun 128 ft long slide built into rocks and 2 whirlpool spas.

Children's Splash Pad at the High Rock Spring Pool Area. Saratoga Spring Resorts pool area for kids.

Little kids will enjoy the Donald Duck splash pad area with mini waterslide.

At On the Rocks Pool Bar, you can grab an adult drink by the pool. If you would like to eat at the pool you can order food to go from the Artist’s Palette restaurant located close to the pool area by check-in. They have signs on the pool tables on how to order or just do it on the My Disney App.

The Paddock Pool

Paddock Pool at Saratoga Springs Resort

The second large pool area is The Paddock Pool. It boasts a 146 ft. long waterslide around a water tower the kids will love. There is also a zero-depth entry area to the pool for the little ones.

After swimming relax in the large horseshoe shaped whirlpool.

If you are hungry or need a drink you can grab it at the Paddock Grill at the pool. An easy place to feed the kids and relax for an afternoon or evening at the pool. They have tables & chairs to eat dinner or just bring the food to your pool chairs.

3 Leisure Pools

There are three leisure pools for all ages located around the rest of the grounds. You will find them in the Treehouse Villas, Congress Park, and the Grandstand. Congress Park and the Grandstand areas also have small playgrounds and BBQs.

The Grandstand pool areas has the Backstretch Pool bar with drinks and snacks.

Life Vests

Life vests are available for kids at Saratoga Springs Resort Pools.

At each pool you will find free life vests for kids. They come in a variety of kids sizes for you to choose and are on hooks by the pool.

Walking the Grounds & Bridge

The grounds all around Saratoga Springs resort are beautiful and there are tons of walking paths to take.

There is also a large bridge that goes across the lake between The Springs and The Paddock. It’s an easy way to go back and forth between these two pool areas. It’s also a nice walk to take with the family by the lake. The bridge closes at dusk.

Community Hall

The Community Hall is located right next to High Rock Springs Pool. Here you’ll find complimentary ping-pong, foosball, arts & crafts, video games, board games, DVDs and more.

You can also check out complimentary basketballs, shuffleboard equipment and tennis to use at the sports courts.

If you would like to grill at the BBQs around the resort this is the area to check out grilling tools too.

Bike Rentals

Families can rent bikes to ride around the grounds. You can also try out the bicycle built for 2 or 4. These can be rented at the Horsing Around Rentals by Community Hall

Arcade

There is an arcade located right next to Community Hall for kids. This was closed during our visit for Covid but see if it is currently open when you arrive.

Groceries

Disney Saratoga Springs Resort Quick Service Restaurant Artist's Palette with grocery area.

In the Artist’s Palette there is a small grocery section if you want items for your room. It’s limited but good if you just want something like a frozen pizza or Mac n Cheese. You could also consider having groceries delivered from the local grocery stores if you want more food.

We stopped at the local Orlando grocery store before we went to the hotel to get snacks and breakfast food.

Bus Stops

There are six bus stops on the resort property. One for each section of rooms. You can get a bus to all the different Disney Parks from each stop except the Treehouse Villas.

If you stay in the Treehouse Villas you will take a bus to The Springs and then transfer to park buses. The Springs stop is the main stop for the resort.

At each stop you will see a digital sign with the name of each park and when the next bus is due to arrive at that stop. This will give you an idea of how long you need to wait.

Once you leave the resort area it takes between 10 -15 minutes to reach all the different Parks with Animal Kingdom taking the longest to get to.

Sometimes you can wait up to 30 minutes, especially in the morning when everyone is going to the parks at the same time. So keep this in mind when you decide what time you need to go to the bus.

Keep your kids busy while waiting for the bus with our Fun Games to Play in Line at Disney. No more whining while waiting in line!

Tip: You can check the bus times for the resort stops on your My Disney Experience App. Just go under Saratoga Springs Resort and click on bus times. This will give you an idea if you need to run to a stop to catch the bus or walk. I would say it’s fairly accurate but not exact.

Fireworks

You can not see the fireworks from Saratoga Springs Resort. However, some of the preferred rooms do give you a view of Disney Springs.

We stayed at this hotel for a week and had a blast. We were not able to do everything as it offered so much. I think it would be a great resort to stay at even if you were not visiting the Disney parks. The proximity to Disney Springs is great and it would be a fun place to base yourself and explore Orlando.

I hope this Disney Saratoga Springs Resort Review has helped you figure out if this is the right resort for your next Disney Vacation. I found it to be worth the money for the extra space, beds, and kitchen provided at this resort.

More Disney World Tips

Be ready for Disney Vacation with Ultimate Disney World Tips for First Timers. Easy Disney Hacks for dinning, saving money, rope drop and more.

Here are a few more Disney Tips to help you get ready for your vacation.

15 Disney World Tips Every First Timer Needs – Everything You Need to Know Before You Go.

Ultimate Disney Packing List for Your Park Bag – Free Printable Checklist of what you’ll need in your park backpack.

Fun Games to Play in Line at Disney – Keep your kids from getting bored in line with these simple line games. No more hearing I’m Bored.

15 Best Travel Games for Kids at Dollar Tree – Cheap travel games to play on your road trip to Disney. Plus they have Disney figures to surprise your kids with!

How to Travel Cheaply on Family Vacation – Easy Money Saving Tips for Traveling with Kids

20 Genius Hotel Hacks for Family Vacation – Tips you need before staying at a hotel with kids.

Florida Vacations

Want to extend your trip to Florida? Visit these family favorite spots.

Best Naples Florida Attractions for Families

Free Things to Do in Naples Florida

Fun Things to Do In Marco Island with Kids

Best Airboat Rides in the Everglades

If you have questions or Disney Hacks you’d like to share feel free to leave them in the comments. So we can all help each other.

Did you enjoy reading these tips? Join the Happy Mom Hacks community where we find ways to make a mom’s life easier by getting our weekly newsletter.

Bonus for signing up you get a Free Printable Disney Parks Packing List with everything you need to bring in your backpack to the parks.

Free Printable Disney Park Bag Checklist for Families. Everything you need to bring to the Disney parks for a stress-free day. Follow this easy checklist and you'll be ready for your awesome Disney Vacation.

Don’t’ forget to Pin This

2021 Pictures of Disney Sarasota Springs Resort Rooms. A parents review of the updated rooms, pools, dining, bus service, maps & more. All the tips and advice you need to see if this is the right Disney Property for your family's Disney Vacation. We loved the cool new murphy beds!
2021 Detailed Review & Tips of Saratoga Springs Resort at Disney World. This amazing Disney Hotel has been newly updated with everything new in the rooms including cool new murphy beds. Check out our pictures, video of rooms and tips to see if this is the perfect hotel for your Disney Vacation.
Fun Family Trips

15 Disney World Tips & Hacks Every First Timer Should Know

Are you planning a first-time trip to Walt Disney World? It is so exciting and overwhelming to plan a Disney vacation. But don’t worry you’ll be ready with our expert Disney World tips & hacks for first-timers.

Everything you must know before you go to Disney World from a Disney Travel Agent. My friend Amy from Kingdom Destinations helped me plan our family vacation to Disney and her tips helped make our trip amazing.

The key to a great Disney World vacation is to being prepared. So don’t leave home without these clever Disney World tips from Amy and you’ll be ready for an unforgettable Disney experience.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Top Disney World Tips & Hacks for First-Timers

15 Secret Tips for Disney World First Time Visitors. What you need to know about rope drop, dinning, rides, saving money and more. Be ready for a amazing Disney Vacation with tips from a Disney Travel Agent.

Are you ready to start planning your Disney Vacation? These simple Disney World tips & tricks will have you ready for the vacation you’ve been dreaming about.

Walt Disney World Has Four Parks

Walt Disney World tips for all four Parks, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

Many people don’t know that Walt Disney World has four theme parks and each park deserves at least a day of your time. The four parks are Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

Some common misconceptions about the parks are Epcot is just a park just for Adults, Hollywood Studios is a half-day park, and Animal Kingdom is a zoo. These all are false and let me tell you why.

Epcot has several rides, scavenger hunts, and activities for little ones. Plus lots of fun food to try for the whole family. With the addition of the Frozen ride, it has become a huge hit with kids.

Hollywood Studios is now a full day park with the new Toy Story Land and Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Here you’ll find rides for a mix of ages. It has become a very popular park with teens and pre-teens due to the larger rides.

Animal Kingdom does have lots of animals to see but it is not quite a zoo. You’ll find cool rollercoasters and an awesome virtual reality ride based on the Avatar movie and the Festival of Lion King Show.

Magic Kingdom hosts all the classic Disney rides visitors have come to love. It also has the most rides out of all the parks and takes the longest time to explore.

Rope Drop

Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom Entrance for Rope Drop

One of the things I recommend most to my clients is Rope Drop. Rope Drop refers to when Cast Members first let guests into the park. If you are standing at the entrance at this time you can get into the park early and be the first on the rides.

All 4 parks usually open the front part of the park 30-45 mins before the official opening times to let guests spread out, shop, and get food and drinks.

In 2021 they have unofficially been opening most of the parks a 1/2 hour early. To get there in time for rope drop check what time the buses from your hotel begin to run and how long it takes to get to the park.

Keep in mind you may have to wait 20-30 minutes for a bus to come to your resort stop especially at beginning of the day. You can check the bus arrival times on your My Disney Experience App under your Hotel tab.

If you plan to drive to the park keep in mind the parking lots only open 30 minutes before the park opens. This means people staying at Disney properties can get there earlier by taking a park bus. Also if you stay at a Disney Resort you can park for free at all the Disney World Parks.

No matter what time you get there, the first 2 hours each park is open is a great time to enjoy rides before everyone that wanted to sleep in on their vacation makes it to the parks. So don’t stress if you don’t make the rope drop.

Tip: It is also easier to get on rides the last hour the parks are open at night but more on that below.

Be Prepared for the Weather

Make sure to bring rain gear to Disney. Use this free printable Disney Packing List to make sure you remember everything you'll need to pack for a day at the parks. Be prepared for an amazing vacation with your kids.

This is Florida. Plan on sun and rain, all on the same day. Bring your sunscreen in your bag, and also bring a poncho, raincoat, or umbrella. It can go from hot to a sudden downpour, too hot again in less than an hour.

An umbrella can do double duty using it for rain storms and to keep the sun off while waiting in lines that aren’t shaded.

Use our Free Printable Disney Backpack Checklist to make sure you have everything you need in the park. It’s a comprehensive list to make packing for a day at the parks stress-free. Just follow the checklist.

Free Printable Disney Park Bag Checklist for Families. Everything you need to bring to the Disney parks for a stress-free day. Follow this easy checklist and you'll be ready for your awesome Disney Vacation.

Disney World Food

Theme park food is not just burgers and fries – The food at Disney World has come a long way since I first started visiting the parks. Now there are many dishes that I crave.

Go on the My Disney Experience website or App and look at the different menus to find what might be interesting to you. Try and plan out before you go where you might want to eat so that you aren’t stressing while at the park with starving kids.

Take advantage of Mobile Food Ordering on the Disney App and order your food at Quick Service restaurants ahead of time so you don’t have to wait in line. You can do this the day of while you’re waiting in ride lines and just add in the time you want to pick it up. This is a game-changer in fast food at Disney.

If you plan to go to one of the many delicious sit-down restaurants you can book these reservations starting 60 days in advance on the My Disney Experience app. Also, character meals can be booked 60 days in advance.

If your not sure which restaurants to pick send me a message on my FB page or email me at amy@kingdomdestinations.com. I have a long list of favorites!

Tip: The quick-service restaurants will always give you free cups of ice water for your family. Ask for this to fill up your water bottles when you go to eat.

Standing in Ride Lines

Best tips for waiting in line at Disney for rides, food and more.

The ride lines can be long and boring for younger kids. Disney has tried to make them more exciting by adding pictures and themed decorations for families to look at while waiting, but if your waiting an hour in line this is not enough.

A fun line game Disney has started is trivia games that you can only access while waiting in line on your My Disney Experience App. Both kids and adults will enjoy playing this together.

Make sure to have a few line game ideas ready before you go. Here are some easy games to play in line at Disney with Kids. No more hearing them say “I’m Bored” while waiting in line.

Take a Mid-Day break

Disney Tip- Take a break in your day at the Disney Resort pool. Give yourself a chance to rest up before going back to the Parks.

One of the advantages of staying at a Disney resort is that you can easily hop back to your hotel for a mid-day nap, swim, or just a break from the crowds. Then head back to the parks later in the afternoon. It will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to see more.

You can also hop on a bus to one of the Disney Resorts your not staying at and have lunch at one of their restaurants. It would be a fun time to ride the Monorail or Skyliner to a Disney Resort for a meal too.

Take your time and enjoy seeing what the other resorts are like. Then go back in the late afternoon or evening which is one of my favorite times in the parks with lower ride times.

Check out the Newly Refurbished Saratoga Springs Resort at Disney – Spacious rooms perfect for families at Disney.

Have a Plan But Be Flexible

It’s good to have a plan each day for rides that are important to your family and are must-dos. You also want to factor in lines with the longest wait times.

Start the day with a list and possibly an order of how you want to do things. But don’t get flustered if your day doesn’t go as planned, stay flexible!

Sometimes rides break down temporarily or it rains, or your kids are really into something you didn’t plan for, or they’re just tired and done for the day. It’s supposed to be a fun day so don’t get too rigid in your plans.

Last Ride of the Day Tip

Tips for the Rides at Disney World. Which rides for the end of the day.

Don’t save the big rides for the end of the night, but this is a great time for one more ride. What I mean is with ride times going down at the end of the day it’s the perfect time to hop on your favorite ride one more time. Or hit up that ride that had long lines all day.

Tip: If you are in line for a ride one minute before the park closes, you will be able to ride that ride.

Stay After the Park Closes

While each park does have an official closing time you can usually shop at the stores and take pictures after the park closes. Take your time leaving the parks and get that last picture with only a few people in it.

Bus service back to the Disney Resorts usually runs for 1 hour after the park closes. So you have time to get in that last ride or picture in the park.

Just keep in mind to be respectful of the Cast Members and their time as well.

Take a Rest Day

Visit Disney Springs on your day off from the Disney Parks. A fun place to take a break, shop and eat. Take a bus from your Disney hotel to this energetic downtown.

This is an unpopular opinion. Many guests like to pack as much as they can into a Walt Disney World vacation. But walking 10-12 miles a day is exhausting to even those in the best of shape.

Taking a day to sleep in, swim, shop, or even just get a later start and not head to the parks until late in the day can make a world of difference in your trip.

This would be a great day to visit Disney Springs too!

Disney World Tips for Saving Money

Save Money at Disney buying Disney shirts before you go. Shirts, hats, masks and more all all cheaper on Amazon or local Disney stores than at the actual park.
Star Wars T-Shirts

Although Disney can be expensive you can find lots of easy ways to save money too. Here are a few ideas:

T-Shirts – Buy Disney T-shirts for the family to wear before you go. This way you aren’t paying more for them at Disney parks.

Souvenirs – You can also buy these ahead and pack them in your suitcase. Then surprise your kids with the items in the hotel before you go.

Suggestions are Disney Autograph Books, Light up Princess Wand, Light up Pirate Sword, Disney Mini Figures

Breakfast – Have breakfast in your room. You can bring food or order grocery store delivery to your hotel room.

Pack a Lunch – Bring your own lunch and snacks to eat and just buy dinner at the park.

Popcorn Bucket – The popcorn bucket is the best deal for snacks if you plan to be at the parks for more than one day. Once you buy the bucket it is only $1 to refill it.

Ticket Savings – Ticket prices at Disney cost more during busier times of year. Try and go at an off season time to save money on ticket prices. Disney Crowd Calendar

Bring What You Need to the Park – Don’t end up spending money buy things you could bring from home like, ponchos, medication, Disney Ears, water, snacks, extra clothes.

Use our Free Printable Disney Packing list to remember everything you’ll need in your park bag.

Memory Maker

The Memory Maker is Disney’s photo pass with pictures taken in the park by Disney Cast Members. These photos can then be downloaded to your computer or phone. You will be able to see the pictures the day you take them on your My Disney Experience App.

The choice to buy the Memory Maker depends on how many pictures you will want to have taken by Cast Members at the park. With Covid, the Cast members will not take pictures with your camera anymore. A nice feature of the pass is you will get pictures taken on the rides too.

It does cost less to buy the Memory Maker before your trip than once you are at the park so keep that in mind. If you only want one or two pictures it is cheaper to individually buy the pictures.

However, if you’ll want more pictures with all your memories at the park is cheaper to buy the Memory Maker package.

First Time to Disney Buttons

Grab a Free First Time to Disney Button and Birthday celebrations at the park. Pick up these pin from a Disney Cast member. Kids will love all the birthday wishes they will get and welcome to the park.

If you are celebrating birthdays, anniversary or your first trip to Disney pick up a free pin at Guest Services. Kids will love all the happy birthdays they hear all day from staff and other guests at the park.

Bring a Portable Phone Charger

Disney World Tip - Bring a portable phone Charger with to the parks. You will use your phone for maps, quick service restaurants, rides, pictures and My Disney Experience. Don't run out of cell phone battery.

You will use a lot of your cell phone battery power on the My Disney Experience App. The app is great to look at maps, ride times, tracking your photos, and ordering food.

To make sure you don’t run out of batteries bring a small cell phone charger in your park bag. The cell phone charger pictured above from Anker was what we used on our last trip and it worked great.

Seeing All the Attractions

Don’t get stressed if you don’t get to see everything. There is so much to see especially at the Magic Kingdom that you might not fit it all in on your first trip.

Figure out what is most important to see and visit those attractions first. After that everything you see will be a bonus.

Use a Travel Agent for Your Trip!

Travel Agents are a free resource for you. You do not pay any extra to use a Travel Agent (Disney pays them for you). And you get their expertise and knowledge for free! They can also look for special promotions for your travel dates.

If you have more questions or need any help planning your upcoming trip please reach out to me at amy@kingdomdestinations.com or on Facebook.

Thanks to Amy for giving us her helpful Walt Disney World Tips for first-timers. Amy was an amazing resource in planning our vacation so don’t hesitate to reach out to her for help in planning your Disney vacation.

More Walt Disney World Tips & Hacks

12 Games to Play in Ride Lines at Disney – Keep your kids busy while waiting in long lines with these simple & fun games.

What to Pack in Your Disney Backpack – Free Printable Checklist with everything you need to bring in your Disney park bag for a successful day at the parks.

Disney Saratoga Springs Resort Review – This newly Refurbished Disney property offers lots of cool new upgrades for families.

Dollar Tree Road Trip Games – Keep kids busy & happy on road trips to Disney with cheap travel games from Dollar Tree. They have Disney figures too!

How Much Will Your Trip Cost? – Use our free trip cost calculator to create a budget for your Disney Vacation.

More Florida Vacation Ideas – Enjoy more of Florida visiting Naples or Marco Island two very kid friendly vacation spots.

I hope these Disney World Tips for First-Timers have helped you get ready for your Disney World Vacation. Our trip planned by Amy was amazing and we felt so prepared for hitting the parks each day.

If you have questions or Disney Hacks you’d like to share feel free to leave them in the comments. So we can all help each other.

Did you enjoy reading these tips? Join the Happy Mom Hacks community where we find ways to make a mom’s life easier by getting our weekly newsletter.

Bonus for signing up you get a Free Printable Disney Parks Packing List with everything you need to bring in your backpack to the parks.

Free Printable Disney Park Bag Checklist for Families. Everything you need to bring to the Disney parks for a stress-free day. Follow this easy checklist and you'll be ready for your awesome Disney Vacation.

Don’t Forget to Pin This

Genius Disney World Tips for First Timers. Everything you need to know before you go in 2021. Learn how to save money, rope drop, dinning at Disney, taking a break and more smart Disney Tips. Plus a free printable Disney Packing List for park bags. Use this to start planning your Disney Vacation.
Best Disney World First Time Tips for families. How to plan your Disney Vacation to save money & time, dining, Memory Maker pictures for a stress-free vacation. Plus a free printable Disney packing list for your park bag. You'll be ready for a fabulous Disney Trip with your kids.
2021 Disney World Tips & Tricks from an Expert. Everything you need to know for planning a family vacation at Disney. Learn about dining, ride lines, rope drop, saving money, and more. Plus a free printable Disney Packing list for your Park Bag. After reading this you'll be ready for an amazing Disney Vacation.
Fun Family Trips

Ultimate Disney Packing List for Park Bags | Free Printable

Wondering what to bring to Disney World for your family vacation? There are a few Disney park essentials that everyone needs in their Disney backpack. Our ultimate Disney packing list will make sure you remember everything you need to put in your park bag.

Use the free printable Disney packing list to get yourself organized for your vacation. Follow along to see what you should pack for Disney and why you’ll need it.

Then print out your Free Disney Packing List and be ready for an unforgettable Disney Vacation.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

What to Bring to Disney World the Ultimate Disney Packing List

Free Printable Disney Packing List for your Park Bag. All the Disney Essentials you'll need visiting the park with your kids. Don't' stress about packing for Disney use this checklist to make it easy. Plus some great Disney Tips for your Visit.

It can be overwhelming getting ready for a Disney vacation. There is so much to plan and think about before you leave from planning your ride schedule to restaurant reservations and picking your hotel.

Don’t make remembering what to bring in your Disney backpack another stress for you to plan. Let’s make it easy with this complete Disney Packing Checklist.

Is this your first time to Disney? Make sure to read our 15 Tips for Disney World First Timers before you go or refresh your memory from your last trip.

What Should I Pack for Disney

Disney Park essentials to pack in your backpack for the parks. Everything you need to bring with you for a fun family day at Disney. Including a Free Printable Disney Packing List.

Let’s go through all the Disney park essentials you’ll need for your day at a Disney Parks. The free printable Disney packing list is broken up into categories to make it easier for you to pack.

I created this list when I was planning my own Disney vacation and wanted to share it to make it easier for other parents to be prepared. Let’s go through these categories and figure out what you will need in your Disney park bag.

Bonus the more you remember to bring the less money you’ll have to spend at Disney Parks.

Baby & Toddler Gear

Disney Packing List ideas for babies & Toddlers. What you need to bring to make it a stress-free Disney Vacation with the kids. Free Printable Packing Checklist

If you have little ones you’ll want to make sure you have the basics they will need all day in your backpack or stroller.

Diapers – Bring extras as you never know when there will be a blow out.

Disposable Wipes – Wipes are great for changing diapers but also work to wipe off sticky hands after treats in the park.

Sippy Cup – Try a Mickey Mouse-themed sippy cup or get throw away sippy cups you won’t mind losing at the park. Even if you order a drink at a restaurant for your kids it’s nice to pour it into a cup they won’t spill.

Tip: The restaurants do not have straws which makes it harder for younger kids to drink. Consider packing some straws in your bag too.

Bottle, formula and bottle cooler bag – Don’t forget these as it’s hard to find formula at Disney.

Snack Cup – Bring snack cups with a top so kids can use them while walking or in the stroller. Fill a cup with snacks before you go so it’s ready when you need it.

Tip: Snacks are also a great way to keep kids in their strollers while you walk from ride to ride.

Best Stroller Hack – Use a Stroller Strap on snack cups and sippy cups so if your child drops the cup from the stroller you won’t lose it. I put these on everthing from strollers to high chairs & car seats.

Free Printable Disney Park Bag Checklist for Families. Everything you need to bring to the Disney parks for a stress-free day. Follow this easy checklist and you'll be ready for your awesome Disney Vacation.

Stroller Accessories

Items to bring to Disney for your Stroller for an easy Disney Vacation.

To make things easier make sure your stroller is ready for a day at the parks too. Adding cup holders and organizers to your stroller will help with storing items you need while walking around the parks.

Also, make sure to add a stroller tag or ribbon to your stroller. The stroller parking areas are full and it can be easy to grab a similar stroller without realizing it. So make sure to mark your stroller in some way to make it stand out.

Cup holders – Add a drink clip to your stroller so your not holding everyone’s water bottles.

Stroller Organizer – Be able to find your phone, kids’ snacks, toys, and drinks.

Stroller Tag – Helps to find your stroller amongst all the other strollers at Disney.

Stroller Rain Cover – It rains a lot in Florida so it’s good to be prepared with a rain cover that goes over the stroller.

Stroller Fan – It also gets hot and humid so a portable fan can really help cool kids off when they are in the stroller. The bendable fans are great to adjust the flow of air toward your kids.

Sit & Stand Stroller – This is the stroller I used when my kids were 2 & 4 and it worked great. The baby could sleep and the 4-year-old could hop on when he got tired of walking between rides.

I love the flexibility to adjust the stroller to have two seats or one seat and one bench in the Joovy Caboose stroller.

Sun Gear for your Disney Packing List

What to Pack for Disney World to Stay cool at the parks. Plus all the other essentials you need to bring to the Disney Parks and a free printable checklist.
Use a cooling towel on your neck to stay cool

The Florida sun can get pretty intense and you are often standing outside without shade. Make sure you prepare to keep yourself cool. You can buy many of these items in the Disney stores but it will be a lot more expensive.

Hats – Bring a hat for everyone in your family to wear. It could be a simple Disney baseball hat or a Disney sun hat with a wide brim. If you don’t buy this ahead of time it would be a fun souvenir to purchase at the parks too.

Sunglasses – If you don’t have these for the kids already you might want to buy them for the trip.

Cooling Towel – An easy way to cool off at Disney is to use a cooling towel. All you need to do is run it under a bathroom sink or drinking fountain to activate the cooling towel and wring out the water.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly it can bring down your temperature when placed on your neck.

Portable Fan With Mister – Another great way to cool off quickly is a portable fan with a mister attached. You can fill it up with water at the drinking fountain and stay cool while waiting in line.

Sunscreen – Make sure you bring with sunscreen to reapply while at the park. We like to use sunscreen sticks for quick application on your face while in line.

Electronics

Portable ChargerThis is very important for a trip to Disney. You will be using your phone for checking ride line lengths, ordering food, checking park maps, and more. All of these drain your battery quickly.

We used the Anker portable charger and it worked great to keep our phones going all day long.

Waterproof Cell Phone Case – Protect your phone at Disney pools or water rides with a waterproof cell phone case. You can easily slip them on your phone and never miss a great picture of your kids. This is the case we used Waterproof Case.

Clothing & Gear

Make sure to bring rain gear to Disney. Use this free printable Disney Packing List to make sure you remember everything you'll need to pack for a day at the parks. Be prepared for an amazing vacation with your kids.

Be ready for all the different weather changes by adding additional clothing & weather gear to your backpack. You can check these items off on your Disney packing list.

Extra Clothes – Depending on your kid’s age it will determine how much extra clothing you’ll need. For babies, you might want more and teens not so much. I would throw in extra shorts or a shirt if you plan to ride any water rides.

Rain Poncho – With the amount of rain Florida gets you’ll defiantly want to pack a rain poncho for everyone. The ponchos are nice because they are lightweight and small so it’s easy to pack. If you are in Disneyland this might not be needed depending on the time of year you go.

We got a family box of rain ponchos with adult and child size ponchos. These were a little thicker so they didn’t rip.

Sweatshirt or Light Jacket – If you plan to stay all day at the parks it can be cooler in the morning or evening so you might want a sweatshirt. Also inside shows, restaurants and rides can be cool with the air conditioning.

Order a cute Disney Zip up before you go and save money by not having to buy it at the parks when your kids get cold.

Travel Umbrella – Throw a small travel umbrella in your bag to be ready for a Florida afternoon rain storm their famous for.

Extra Padded Socks – You will be walking a ton at the Disney Parks and your feet will feel it. I suggest purchasing some padded socks and throwing an extra pair in to use if you stay all day long.

These were a lifesaver for me at the Disney World. Here are the padded socks I got and found them to be really comfortable to wear all day.

Safety & Extras for Your Backpack

Ultimate Disney Packing List for families. What to bring in your backpack to the Disney Parks to be prepared for a fun day out. Free Printable Disney Packing List too!

Your Disney backpack will also need a few safety items to use for your day at the parks. Here are some must-haves for all ages of Disney visitors.

Check out the Safety Wristbands we highly recommend for younger kids who can’t remember your phone number.

Child Safety WristbandWorried about losing your kids in the park? Give your kids a Silicone ID Bracelet to wear that is customized with your child’s name and parents’ phone number.

This will make it easy for a Disney Cast Member to call you when your child is located. The parks can get really busy and crowded and this bracelet will give you a little peace of mind. Just make sure your kids know who to go to if they lose you.

We liked the Id bracelets from Mabel’s Labels – To get 20% off of order over $50 use code TWENTY.

Travel First Aid Kit & Band-Aids – Yes you can find a Disney Cast member to give you a band-aid but when your kids fall and is crying you need something right away. I found it easier just to throw a small band-aid pack in my bag.

Face Masks – As of writing this article Face Masks were still required for visitors. If you do need to wear masks bring extras because they will get hot and sweaty. It’s best to have one for the morning and one for the afternoon. We bought these cute Disney Masks for our last trip.

Hand Sanitizer – Your kids will be touching everything whether you want them to or not. Throw a small hand sanitizer in your bag to use before they eat or put their hands in their mouth.

Moleskin – With all the walking at the parks comes the dreaded blisters even for the most in shape visitors. Your blisters can make it really hard to walk without pain and put a damper on your trip.

I used Moleskin padding on my blister and it made a huge difference. I was able to walk the next day without any pain. Honestly, I questioned the need for this before I went but was so glad I ended up bringing it with me to Disney. You just never know if you’ll need it.

Medication – The parks can be a lot I would bring with a few Advil, Tylenol or Excedrin in your bag for the adults.

If you or your child has motion sickness I would bring with Dramamine too. There are many virtual rides and spiny rides that can make you feel sick.

Travel Tums – With all the different food you’ll be eating it’s easy to get heartburn so just throw a few in your backpack.

Large Freezer Bags – This is great for wet clothes, items the kids pick up or anything you might need to throw in a bag last minute at the parks.

Travel Tissue Pack – Throw in a few travel size tissues.

Free Printable Disney Park Bag Checklist for Families. Everything you need to bring to the Disney parks for a stress-free day. Follow this easy checklist and you'll be ready for your awesome Disney Vacation.

Disney Fun

Save money at Disney by buying souvenirs before you go to give to your kids. It is so much cheaper to buy these a head of time. You can pack them in your bag and surprise your kids once you get to the hotel.

Souvenirs for your Disney Packing List

Autograph Book – If your kids like to gather autographs from all the Disney Characters bring a book for them to use throughout your vacation. Tip- Get one with a pen holder so your not searching for a pen when you need the autograph.

Disney Headbands – Your kids will love getting into the Disney spirit with a fun Minnie Mouse headband. Mom’s will love wearing them too! Here’s an adorable Minnie Mouse Ear Scrunchies for kids with ponytails.

Classic Mickey Mouse Ears – It’s also fun to wear the classic Mickey Mouse Ears when you’re at the park. A great piece of nostalgia for adults too.

Magic Bands – The Disney Magic Band works to open your hotel room door at Disney Properties, keeps your park tickets, works as a wallet to buy things at Disney, and links to your Photo Pass. Plus they are so many different patterns and colors to customize to your personal look. Our kids loved wearing these!

Disney is moving to use the cell phone app for all of these things but there is something about the fun of wear the bracelet while at Disney that I just can’t give up yet.

It is cheaper to buy your magic band before you get to the parks on the My Disney Experience website and you can have them waiting for you at your hotel when you check-in.

If you want more design options than you can find on the Disney website look at Amazon for tons of cool patterns & Disney characters. Then have the wrist band linked up by Disney staff when you arrive.

Disney Snacks & Drinks

Packing Snacks for Disney and buying Snacks for kids.

The cost of food and drinks at Disney parks can get really expensive. I would suggest balancing out eating snacks and meals you buy at the park and food you pack in your park bag. This will help save you money.

Snacks – Here are some easy snack ideas- granola bars, fruit snacks, pretzels, goldfish, or apple squeezes. If you have a cooler bag throw in some pre-packaged apple slices or other small fruit.

If you want to balance all the Disney junk food visit our Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids.

Keep in mind that you can only carry so much on your back so you might want to let the kids try one Disney Snack each day. Our kids loved the Blue Milk in Star Wars Galaxy land and Mickey Ice cream bars.

Tip: Disney sells a refillable Popcorn Bin you can buy the first day and refill for only $1 after that. This is our go-to cheap snack to eat with the kids. It’s easy to eat in line while waiting for rides too.

Refillable Water Bottle – All drinks are expensive at Disney even water. Bring a refillable water bottle with you and ask for extra cups of water when you order meals to fill it back up. There are some refillable water stations throughout the parks too.

Tip: Bring a few frozen water bottles with you in your bag. They will melt in the day and still be cold to drink.

Gum / Breath Mints – Toss some gum or hard candy’s into your bag to eat while waiting in line or after a meal. These also work to hold over hungry kids when you stuck in a ride line.

Now you know what essentials to bring in your Disney park bag. I hope the Disney packing list takes the stress out of getting ready for your Disney Vacation.

Make sure to print out your Free Printable Disney Packing Checklist. Use your complete checklist to make sure you remember everything you need to pack.

Free Printable Ultimate Disney Packing List for your Park Backpack. Everything you need to bring to Disney World & Disneyland with kids.

Need More Disney Tips?

Be ready for your Disney Vacation with these helpful Disney Articles to get you ready for an unforgettable vacation.

15 Tips for Disney First Timers – What you need to know before you go!

Disney Line Games – Fun Games to play in lines with kids to keep them entertain and not whining.

Disney Saratoga Springs Resort Review – This newly Refurbished Disney Property offers lots of cool new upgrades for families.

More Family Vacation Ideas

Find tons of fun family vacation ideas on our Family Travel Page and a few below.

Florida – Find out what to do in Naples FL, & Marco Island with kids

National ParksBest National Parks in the US to Visit with Kids

MidwestBest Weekend Getaways in the Midwest for Families and Things to Do in Chicago

Plus what to do in Wisconsin, Virginia, and North Carolina with Kids. Amazing place in the US you’ll want to visit with your family.

Don’t Miss our Clever Family Travel Tips

Fun Road Trip Games at Dollar Tree – Keep the kids busy while you travel with cheap games.

Hotel Hacks – 20 Smart tricks & tips for stress free hotel stays with kids.

Beach Hacks – How to Survive a Day at the Beach with Kids

Did you enjoy reading these tips? Join the Happy Mom Hacks community where we find ways to make a mom’s life easier by getting our weekly newsletter.

Bonus for signing up you get a free Ultimate Family Travel Packing List to be ready for your next vacation.

Follow me on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for family travel ideas, kid’s activities, household hacks, and fun parenting humor to give you a laugh each day.

Don’t Forget to Pin This

Free Printable Disney Checklist for your park backpack. All the essentials you'll need for a day at the Disney parks with your kids in 2021. No more worrying about what to pack just print out this checklist and you'll be ready.
What Disney Essentials to bring in your Disney Park Bag. A free printable Checklist with everything you'll need in 2021 with kids. Make packing easy and stress-free for a fun Disney Vacation.
Fun Family Trips

12 Fun Games to Play in Line at Disney

Do your kids get bored waiting in ride lines and drive you crazy? Make waiting in line fun with easy games to play in line at Disney or any amusement parks.

I came up with this list of things to do in line at Disney on our last trip when I got tired of hearing my kids say “I’m Bored”. If that’s you too let’s fix this for your next Disney Vacation.

All you need are some easy games to entertain your kids while standing in line at Disney. You’ll find it’s a fun way to distract them from having to wait and will help make your family day out less stressful.

The best part is once you know these line games you can use them any time you need to wait with your kids from other amusement parks to airplane lines, waiting at appointments, and long fast food lines.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Easy Games to Play in Line at Disney

12 Fun Games to play in line at Disney parks. Keep your kids entertained while you are waiting with quick and easy games. No more whining about being bored while you wait for long rides. Check it out and have a stress-free family day at Disney.

Entertain your kids while waiting in line at Disney and amusement parks like Six Flags with these fun games to play in line ideas.

Is this your first time to Disney? Make sure to read our 15 Tips for Disney World First Timers before you go or refresh your memory from your last trip.

Heads Up

Entertain Kids in lines with Heads Up iPhone game. Your whole family will love this game to play while waiting in line at Disney World. Keep your kids from getting bored.

The game Heads Up was all the rage when we were at Disney. This is a free game you can get on your iPhone.

To play one person flips the phone to their forehead and a word will appear. The rest of the players need to give clues for that person to guess what the words are.

It’s a quick game as each player only has a minute to get through a list of words. You can adjust the levels to easy or harder depending on the age of your kids.

Heads Up is great in a small space as you need to be close to the phone to see the words. Also, it’s usually pretty funny so it keeps everyone entertained in line.

Magnetic Games to Play in Line

Fun Magnetic Games to play in line at Disney, Amusement Parks or as a travel game on Road Trips.

We brought a Magnetic game in our backpack to play when we were in line. We originally bought these as a road trip game but they worked great at Disney.

The best part is you won’t lose the pieces because they’re magnetic and they work well waiting at restaurants for food too.

There are lots of different types of magnetic travel games to choose from. We played Bingo but some other favorites are Tic Tac Toe, Hangman, Checkers, and Matching Games.

Tip: Add a zip lock bag to the box to hold any pieces you’re not using while standing in line.

Free Printable Disney Park Bag Checklist for Families. Everything you need to bring to the Disney parks for a stress-free day. Follow this easy checklist and you'll be ready for your awesome Disney Vacation.

Charades

Put a Charades app on your phone and play the hilarious game while standing in line. See if you can guess what you family is acting out.

Rock Paper Scissors

Rock Paper Scissors is a fun game to play with kids waiting in line. A fun way to entertain kids while waiting at Disney or Amusement park lines.

All you need are your hands to play this classic game of Rock Paper Scissors. Kids say rock (closed fist) paper (flat hand) scissors (fist with index finger & middle finger extended into a V) after they say this they show which one they pick.

Rock crushes scissors, paper beats rock, scissors beats paper.

Simon Says

To play Simon Says the leader gives a series of commands such as Simon Says touch your eyebrows. Then the players all do the action the leader calls out.

If the leader gives a command without saying Simon Says you do not do the action. The players that do the action without the Simon Says command is out.

Keep it fun by changing who is the leader throughout the wait in line. Also, make sure everyone knows to only ask players to do things they can accomplish standing in line.

Examples – Touch your nose, jump up and down. run in place, touch your toes,

Guess the Animal

Have one player think of an animal. Then everyone must ask yes or no questions about the animal until they can guess the correct animal.

The player who guesses the animal correctly gets to think of the next animal for everyone to guess.

Guess the Disney Character

Play Guess the Disney Character while waiting in Line at Disney World. An easy game to play while waiting in line. One person gives clues to their Disney Character while everyone else guesses. A great way to distract and entertain kids when stuck in lines.

This is just like guess the animal but instead, you think of different Disney Characters to guess. This will gets everyone into the Disney spirit.

I Spy

Use your surrounding to find things to guess. One player sees an item in their eye line to guess then everyone asks questions until they figure out what that person is looking at in the room.

Find the Color

A super simple game to play in line is find the color. Pick a color or pattern and have the rest of the group try and find it.

3 Truths & a Lie

This is a game for a little bit older kids. One player tells 3 true things and then one lie. The rest of the players need to guess which is the lie out of the four thoughts.

Bubbles

Bring Bubbles to entertain kids while waiting in line at Disney World or Amusement parks.

Another popular activity in line at Disney World was bubbles. They are expensive to buy at Disney so bring a cheap bubbles container with you. Then you can blow bubbles for the kids to jump around. You’ll keep the other kids in line entertained too.

Make it even easier to blow bubbles with a battery operated Bubble Wand Machine with a Frozen Theme.

Look for Hidden Mickeys

While at Disney have the kids keep an eye out for hidden Mickeys and other characters while inline.

Play a Game in line on a Phone

When all else fails let the kids play a game on your phone. If you have the My Disney App several of the lines have Disney Trivia that you can only get while waiting in line. So make sure to check that app on each ride.

Are you ready to keep your kids entertained in line now? I hope you found a few fun games to play in line at Disney that your whole family will enjoy.

Do you have a few games to play in line that your kids like? Please share in the comments so we all can play them and entertain our kids.

More Disney Tips

Find more fun Family Vacation Destinations on our Travel Page to help you plan your next family getaway.

15 Tips & Hacks for Visiting Disney World as First Timers – Everything to Know Before You Go

What to Pack in Your Disney Backpack – Free Checklist of everything you need to pack

Disney Saratoga Springs Resort Review – This newly Refurbished Disney property offers lots of cool new upgrades for families.

Dollar Tree Road Trip Games for Kids – Cheap travel games & Disney figures for your vacation

More Florida Vacation Ideas – Enjoy more of Florida visiting Naples or Marco Island two very kid friendly vacation spots.

Did you enjoy reading these tips? Join the Happy Mom Hacks community where we find ways to make a mom’s life easier by getting our weekly newsletter.

Bonus for signing up you get a Free Printable Disney Parks Packing List with everything you need to bring in your backpack to the parks.

Free Printable Disney Park Bag Checklist for Families. Everything you need to bring to the Disney parks for a stress-free day. Follow this easy checklist and you'll be ready for your awesome Disney Vacation.

Don’t Forget to Pin this for Your Disney Vacation

Easy Games to play while waiting in line at Disney Parks or Amusement parks. A fun way to stay entertained in long ride lines when your kids are bored. Use these cool Disney Tips & tricks for a stress-free family day out with no whining.
Fun Games to play in line at Disney World & Disneyland. Entertain your kids while waiting in line with easy games to pass the time. Find out how to play Heads Up, Bingo, Charades, Rock Paper Scissors, 2 Truths & a Lie and more. No more hearing your kid say "I am Bored". It will make your day at Disney much more enjoyable for the whole family.
Fun Family Trips · Kids Games & Activities

40 Staycation Ideas for Families at Home

When you can’t take a family vacation Staycations are really the next best thing to do. With some fun staycation ideas for families at home, you can plan the ultimate mini-vacation. You’ll be amazed at what great family memories you can create even if you don’t leave your own zip code.

Whether your saving money or staying home due to the pandemic make the most of your at-home mini-vacation. Mix in some local spots and entertaining things to do at home on your staycation to keep it exciting for your kids.

Follow along and find out what there is to do on a staycation both in your town and at home. I’ll show you how to make it feel like you’re on a mini-vacation with these 40 fun family staycation ideas to use any time of year.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

40 Staycation Ideas for Families in Any Season

40 Fun Staycation ideas for Kids at Home and in your own city. Families will be inspired with these unique ideas for spending time together on Staycation.  Have a great time saving money and vacation at home.  #staycation #staycationideas #kidsactivites #familyfun #familyvacation

If you’re planning a socially distanced staycation due to the pandemic make sure to read the section on Staycation ideas at home. It’s filled with ways to have fun with your kids without leaving your house.

Staycation Ideas in Your Community

Just because you’re on a staycation doesn’t mean you need to spend all your time at home. There are tons of things to do with kids in your local area.

Make it a mini-vacation by exploring your own home town and getting to know your city better.

Local Library

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Visit your local library to check out new books or DVDss for the staycation and attend kids programs. Most libraries have kids programs planned whenever children are out of school and they are usually free.

Check your local library website to find out what’s going on at a library near you.

Park District

Local park districts often have movies in the park in the summer or free concerts to attend. This is a great free way to spend an evening with the kids.

Check your local park district website to see what other fun free events they have going on while kids are home.

Local Museum

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We love to explore museums with the kids when they are not in school. Take a day to visit a local children’s museum or history museum in your area.

Don’t forget to check out any small town museums showcasing the history of your area. Often these are free and a great way to spend an hour or two out with the kids.

If you are in the Chicago area here are our favorite Chicago Museums to Visit with Kids.

A New Park and Playground

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Visit a new playground or park you have never been to. Often in the summer, we try to plan and visit a new park each week. It’s always more exciting than the one you go to all the time. Bring a picnic and make it a full afternoon out.

In the winter month bundle up and go down the slides into the snow. Or find a local park with a hill you can sled down. You’ll be amazed how much fun even on a cold day the kids can have exploring a new playground.

Hike Your Local Forest Preserve or State Park

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Go on a hike in your local forest preserve or state park. Check their websites before you go to see what free events they have going on while you’re on your Staycation.

We love to go on guided nature hikes with the kids at our local state park. Get some tips on taking a family hike in my Ultimate Guide to Hiking with Kids.

Be a Local Tourist

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Pretend you’re a tourist in your own town and visit the local attractions. Often when we live in a city, we forget how many cool things there are to see in our town. Do a little exploring and go somewhere you have’t visited before.

If you’re in the Chicago area, here are 7 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Chicago with Kids on Staycation.

Local Book Store

Visit a local book store and find some new books to read on vacation. Look at their calendar of events to see when they have story time for kids. This will give you an extra activity to do while you’re there.

Zoo

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Do you have a zoo to visit? What kid doesn’t love seeing new animals and learning all about their habitats? If you don’t have a big zoo, see if there is a local petting zoo you could visit.

Zoos usually host events for Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. So check out what they have going on even in the winter months. We’ve found we can stay warm in the winter by just popping in and out of the buildings looking at animals.

Free Printable Kids Daily Routine Schedule. Get organized when school is out this summer with an easy to follow routine. Make your summer stress free! #kidsschedule #dailyschedule #kidsroutine #freeprintable

Local Farm

Have you ever gone to a local farm with U Pick produce? It’s a really fun experience to pick your own fruit and you leave with some yummy food.

In summer, you can pick blueberries and strawberries while in the fall there is apple or pumpkin picking. Let the kids experience a day on the farm while picking your own food.

Waterparks

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Visit a local waterpark or spray park on a hot day in the summer. Nothing is better than playing in the water on a warm day.

If you need a winter staycation, see if there are any nearby indoor waterparks to visit. We love the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells and find tons of fun Attractions in Wisconsin Dells to do all year long. If you’re in the Midwest this is a quick getaway.

Beach / Community Pool

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Another great way to stay cool on a summer staycation is to visit a local beach or community pool. What better way to spend a summer day than swimming!

Amusement Park

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Do you have a local amusement park in your area? Who needs to go to Disney when you have a fun park near you to ride roller coasters and kiddie rides.

The amusement parks all host holiday events too. So check and see if over Winter Break you can see Holiday light displays at your local Six Flags.

Sledding & Skiing

Over a winter break head to a local snow hill and take the kids sledding. If you live close enough to a Ski Mountain take the kids to learn to ski or snow tubbing. They’ll love the thrill of racing down the snow hill.

Ice Skating

In the winter months take the kids to an outside ice skating rink. You could rent skates or I usually buy the kids some used skates to use for the winter from somewhere like Play it Again Sports.

If you’re in the Chicago area try the outdoor ice skating rinks at Maggie Daley Park or Millenium Park.

In summer months head to an indoor skating rink and enjoy the break from the heat.

Take a Train Ride

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Do you have a local commuter train in your city? Kids love getting a chance to ride a train. It doesn’t even matter that much where you go, it’s just the fun of riding the train.

If you live in a bigger city, ride the train to town and have lunch or visit a local attraction, then ride the train back home.

Try a New Restaurant

Make it feel like you’re on a mini-vacation by trying a new restaurant in the area with your kids. It would be fun to try an ethnic restaurant with a new type of food you have never tried before. You could read together about the country before you go and pretend you’re visiting another country.

The worst thing that can happen is the kids don’t like the food and you pick up McDonald’s on the way home. But at least they get exposed to something new and different and you don’t have to leave the country.

Local Events

Check out your city’s local events calendar for festivals in the area. See if there is something your family would have fun attending.

Hotel Stay

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If you want to get out of the house on your staycation, book a local hotel for a night. Let the kids swim in the pool and order room service. Your whole family will feel like your away on vacation for the night.

Use our Hotel Hacks to clean your room, baby proof, keep out the noise, tips to eat in your room, and more. Quick ways to make staying at a hotel a vacation for everyone.

Volunteer at Local Charity

Have a day for your family to help others by volunteering together at a local charity. Make sure when you research your local charities to check if they accept kids as volunteers.

We love to volunteer at our local food bank and help at a used book donations place for kids.

Fishing

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Find a local lake or pond to take the kids fishing. It’s a great way for the family to hang out for the day and chat while you wait for the fish to bite.

Go on a Local Ice Cream Tour

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Want the kids to be really excited about your staycation? Do a local ice cream tour with the kids. Check out over a couple of days all the local ice cream shops in your area. What could be sweeter than that?

In the winter months test out hot chocolate and cookies at different shops.

Movie

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See a new movie at your local movie theater. Find the day or time with the discounted rates and head over with the family. Don’t want to leave the house rent a movie or watch something new on Netflix.

Tip: In the summer months or winter breaks, many theaters run kid’s movies that have been out for a while at discounted rates.

Play or Musical

Go to a local play or musical with your kids. It can be a big production or just a local one the kids at your park district are putting on.

Baseball Game

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In the summer or during spring training, head to a baseball game. It doesn’t have to be a major league game, the local minor league team can be just as exciting for kids.

TIP: Look for family deals that include food or days when the kids can run the bases. Running the bases is always a huge hit with the kids!

Bowling

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Head to your local bowling alley to play. This is a fun activity for both kids and parents to play together.

Tip: If you have some younger kids, make sure to ask for the bumpers to be put up. This will keep the balls out of the gutter.

Staycation Ideas at Home

When you’re not exploring your city on a staycation, keep busy with these fun things to do with kids at home.

Everything from camping in your backyard, relay races, family game contests, and arts and crafts. Find a staycation idea everyone in your family will enjoy.

Get more ideas in 20 Stay at Home Indoor Activities for Kids.

Backyard or Living Room Camping

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Plan a camping staycation in your own backyard. Set up the tent, tell some camp stories, and roast some marshmallows. Do everything you would on a real camping trip with all the convenience of home.

In the winter months throw up a tent in your living room and roast marshmallows in your fireplace. Kids will love camping out in the house.

Board Game or Minute to Win it Marathon

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Have a family Board game or Minute to Win It competition. Keep it exciting by buying one new board game to play and use a few you already own. If your kids are a little bit older and like competition, make it a family challenge.

Do a bunch of small Minute To Win It type games in a row. Create a chart with each family member’s name and see who wins the most games. You could even have a small prize for the winner.

Need some game ideas? Check out my Rainy Day Family Game Night Ideas and 20 Hilarious Minute to Win It Games. Here are a few of our family’s favorite board games to play together.

Bake Together

Things to Do on Staycation with Kids. Bake together or make a new dinner recipe. 
#staycation #thingstodowithkids #entertainingkids #kids

Find a new fun recipe the kids want to make and bake or cook together. Create a great new dessert or snack they will love to try after working so hard to make it. The fun and memorable part is creating this new recipe with you.

Two snacks we like to make together are Peanut Butter Energy Balls and No-Bake Apple Slice Cookies. Two favorite desserts are our Cake Mix Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and Oreo Balls.

Indoor Laser Maze

Indoor DIY Laser Maze for kids to keep them busy on rainy days when your stay indoors. #indoorgames #indooractivities #lasermaze #kidsactivities #kidsgames

Create a Hallway Laser Maze for the kids to climb through. All you need is streamers and tape to make this fun indoor obstacle course.

Relay Race or Obstacle Course

Create a relay race or obstacle course in your own back yard. Use things you have in your garage for the obstacles such as old boxes, cones, a piece of wood to balance on, or swing set. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just something the kids can run around and laugh.

Have them get involved coloring old paper towel rolls for the relay sticks or helping to figure out how the obstacle course should run. When we do this, we usually invite over some neighbor kids to join in on the fun.

Get more ideas in Easy DIY Outdoor Games with Dollar Tree Items

Arts and Crafts

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Have an afternoon of creating arts and crafts. If it’s something messy like painting, have them do it outside or line a table with newspaper indoors. Get ideas on our Kids Crafts Pinterest Page.

Coffee Filter Butterflies are a fun Craft for Kids at home.

A fun at home craft is making Coffee Filter Butterflies. All you need is a few coffee filters, markers, and pipe cleaners to make these creative butterflies..

Free Printable Kids Daily Routine Schedule. Get organized when school is out this summer with an easy to follow routine. Make your summer stress free! #kidsschedule #dailyschedule #kidsroutine #freeprintable

Indoors Scavenger Hunt

Create a fun scavenger hunt in the backyard or around the house. A scavenger hunt can be as simple as giving the kids a list of things to find around the house or in your backyard.

If you want more of a challenge, you could hide a few things and give them clues on how to find the items. I find giving some type of list makes it easier and they can do it on their own.

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

Free Printable Nature Scavenger Hunt to use on family hikes.  #scavengerhunt #nature #freeprintable

A Neighborhood scavenger hunt is a great way to get out and take a walk around your neighborhood with a purpose. Or use a Nature Scavenger Hunt to hike in your local forest preserve.

Want those difficult tweens and teens to go on a walk with you? Use this fun Tween Scavenger Hunt made just for them.

Build a Fort

Fun things to do on Staycation - Build a fort at home. Entertain the kids building a fort and using it as the kids reading nook. #staycation #fort #entertainingthekids #thingstodowithkids

Do you have fond memories of building forts as a kid, too? Use blankets and furniture to create your own little getaway. Let your kids use their imagination and create their own cool fort.

Bonus, tell them it’s their reading nook while they’re out of school. It’s so much more exciting to read in the fort you built.

Paper Airplane Race

This includes two parts of fun for the family. First, you need to create your super fast airplane and color it. Next, line up and race your airplanes. See who in your family can make the fastest plane.

If you need some help creating your paper airplanes, here is a great kit. It comes with easy to fold planes with a bunch of different designs to make it a little more exciting than just folding your paper at home.

Paper Airplane Targets

Airplane toss is a fun indoor activity for kids at home with streamer and paper airplanes. An easy DIY Game kids will love to play.

Aim and throw your paper airplanes through a target made of streamers. Have a family contest to see who can get the most paper airplanes through the opening.

Water Gun Targets

40 Things to do with kids at home on Staycation. Wondering what to do on a Staycation? We make it easy with fun indoor and outdoor games & activities for families. Plus fun places to go with kids in your own home town. Keep your kids busy and happy with these 40 Staycation Ideas. #kidsactivities #games #staycation #thingstodo #kids

Kids love to play with water guns on warm sunny days. Creating a target is a great way to make a game out of it. You can easily create DIY Targets with what you have around your house.

It can be anything lightweight such as empty pop cans, pringles can, or cut up a pool noodle from the dollar store. Make different heights for the targets by placing them on a ladder or boxes.

In the winter months use your nerf guns to make indoor nerf targets.

Science Experiment

Do a family science experiment together. It’s a great way for the kids to see something cool and learn a little science while they’re not in school. Pair it with a visit to the Science Museum and you have a perfect day out.

One of our favorites is making a Volcano at Home. It’s really easy and you only need a few ingredients to make it.

Need more ideas? Get the Outdoor Science Lab book to learn how to do more science experiments for kids.

Lego 10 Minute Challenge

40 Things to do with kids at home on Staycation. Wondering what to do on a Staycation? We make it easy with fun indoor and outdoor games & activities for families. Plus fun places to go with kids in your own home town. Keep your kids busy and happy with these 40 Staycation Ideas. #kidsactivities #games #staycation #thingstodo #kids

We love to do a Lego challenge at our house. It’s perfect for those times the kids are bored and need something to do.

There is no preparation needed, just box up a bunch of random Lego pieces you have around the house and give the kids 10 minutes (or however long you want) to build. You will be amazed at the cool creations your kids come up with!

Lemonade Stand

Teach the kids to be an entrepreneur by making their own lemonade stand. This is an entertaining way to take up an afternoon with the kids.

They will need to color a big sign, set up a table, make the lemonade, and then help customers. The kids will have fun and learn what it takes to make a business run.

Movie Marathon

If your staycation is in the winter months or on a rainy day, plan a movie marathon with the kids. Let everyone pick out one movie they want to watch. Order some pizza, pop some popcorn, and settle in for a relaxing day.

Dance Party

Want to get everyone up and moving? Have a fun Dance Party! Crank up the tunes and dance around laughing and having fun.

Gardening

40 Things to do with kids at home on Staycation. Wondering what to do on a Staycation? We make it easy with fun indoor and outdoor games & activities for families. Plus fun places to go with kids in your own home town. Keep your kids busy and happy with these 40 Staycation Ideas. #kidsactivities #games #staycation #thingstodo #kids

While on staycation, get some work done in your garden while having fun with the kids. Let them plant some seeds, pull weeds and look for worms and bugs. Enjoy being outside as a family while getting your yard work done.

Sports Tournament

40 Things to do with kids at home on Staycation. Wondering what to do on a Staycation? We make it easy with fun indoor and outdoor games & activities for families. Plus fun places to go with kids in your own home town. Keep your kids busy and happy with these 40 Staycation Ideas. #kidsactivities #games #staycation #thingstodo #kids

Are you a family that loves to play sports? Have a family sports tournament. Choose a few sports they like and create short games out of them, such as a basketball shooting contest, catching contest for baseball, sprinting contests for track, and most soccer goals made. Anything that the kids love to play can be turned into mini competitions.

If you want something other than sports, here are a few outdoor games our family really enjoys playing. All four will keep both kids and adults busy for hours. Perfect games for kids parties and barbecues, too.

Chalk Art

Sidewalk Chalk is a fun things to do on Staycation with kids.

Do you have a budding artist? Break out the sidewalk chalk and let the kids color the driveway. We love to do Sidewalk Shadow Art on the driveway or on paper. It’s a fun way to do art outside.

More Fun Things to Do at Home

Here are a few more fun ways to spend time at home with your kids. Find tons of ideas on our Kids Activity Page.

Keep the kids on a daily schedule while school is out. Here is our free printable daily schedule for kids to help make your day at home less chaotic.

I hope out of this list of 40 Staycation ideas for families, you found a few fun things to do with your kids. All you need are a couple of new kid’s activities to keep your time at home exciting.

A staycation can be so much fun you won’t even miss out on taking a real vacation this year. Or at least you’ll still make some great family memories together. So get out and explore your home town and plan some fun games at home with the kids.

Did you enjoy this article? At Happy Mom Hacks, we are always striving to find ways to make a mom’s life easier with activities for kids, fun family travel destinations, and easy meal ideas.

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Ultimate List of Staycation Ideas for families. 40 activities for kids to keep them busy in Summer, spring break and winter break. Things to do at home with kids and places to visit in your home town. Everything you need for a great family staycation.
#kids #kidsactivities #staycation #familyvacation
40 Staycation Ideas for Families at home. Fun Things to do with kids in your own home town to make great family memories. Plus fun indoor and outdoor activities to do at home too. #staycation #thingstodowithkids #familystaycation #staycationideas #summerbreak #springbreak #winterbreak

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Best Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley with Kids

Are you planning a visit to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia? This is one of our favorite places to visit in the US. You’ll find a huge variety of things to do in Shenandoah Valley with kids

The Valley has amazing views and hikes in Shenandoah National Park and cruising Skyline Drive. A super cool cave to explore at Luray Caverns. Plus cute towns to visit in Winchester, Staunton, and Charlottesville, Virginia. Let me show you all the best things to do in Shenandoah Valley to make it a family vacation you’ll never forget.

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Best Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley with Kids

Shenandoah Valley Virginia Top Things to Do with Kids. Plan your family vacation to Shenandoah Valley with cute towns, museums, Shenandoah National Park, Luray Caverns and more. Everything you can't miss in Shenandoah. #shenandoahvalley #virginia #familyvacation #virginiavacation #shenandoahnationalpark #luraycaverns #thingstodoshenandoah

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia Best Things to Do with Kids. Hike through Shenandoah National Park, Visit Luray Caverns, Winchester and Staunton VA. Learn about civil war history and checkout a great children's museum. Find tons of trip ideas for families in Shenandoah.

Shenandoah National Park is only 75 miles from Washington, D.C. but you will feel like your in another world. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you will find amazing views over Shenandoah Valley and fun family adventures.

Start out by visiting the visitor centers to get an idea of where you are going, grab a map, and talk to the rangers about the best hikes. This is a great place to stop for a picnic lunch and bathrooms, too. The visitor centers also have great displays to learn more about the park that your kids will love. Plus, there are ranger-led tours along the nearby paths where the rangers will talk about Shenandoah National Park.

Next, head out on one of the many family-friendly hikes. You can visit a cool waterfall at Dark Hollow Falls or head to Stony Man Hike where the kids can scramble up the hills to see the great views of the park. We also loved climbing the rock paths on Bearfence Mountain trail. Here is a link to trail maps and brochures.

Skyline Drive

Once the kids are worn out, take a drive on the scenic Skyline Drive. Along the way, you will find several pullouts for your car where you can stop to admire the view and take some pictures. The whole drive can take up to 3-4 hours without stops so plan on a full day. Keep your eye out for wildlife as you drive, we saw deer and bears while we were there. Just keep your distance and the bears are fine. You can learn more about bear encounters at the visitor centers.

I would suggest bringing a backpack or my favorite, a fanny pack, with you to carry snacks and water on your hike. I prefer fanny packs because it saves me from back pain after the hike. Here’s my favorite that turns into a purse for later and carries two water bottles.

We also have found that a hiking backpack carrier that holds kids is a great way to make hiking easier when they are little. We favor the Cross Country Baby Carrier.

Get all the details you need to plan your visit in my Ultimate Guide to Shenandoah National Park. Easily plan your trip before you go with the best hiking trails, what to see, and tips for visiting the park.

Looking for other great National Parks to Visit with the Kids?

Check out 8 Top Things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Best National Parks in the USA with Kids

Luray Caverns

The Luray Caverns are not to be missed on your visit to Shenandoah Valley. You will be astonished by the size of stalactite and stalagmite growing in the cave. We couldn’t believe all the different forms and shapes created over thousands of years. Pretty amazing to see.

For the visit, plan about an hour to take the guided tour of the cave. Docents along the way will teach you all about the history of the cave and what you are looking at as you walk through the sidewalk path. We found this really helpful.

To get to the cave, you walk down a long staircase and then follow along a sloping paved sidewalk area. There are 3 sets of stairs throughout the cave so a small stroller is recommended but it’s a pretty easy walk for kids. There is constantly something new and exciting to look at so we found the kids so engaged they didn’t mind the walk.

Also included in your ticket are three small museums: Toy Town Junction, the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, and Luray Valley Museum. Each is located on the property around the large parking lot area. With the addition of these three museums, I would plan on making this trip last about half a day.

They do have two cafes to eat at and a wine tasting area to help you get through the day. There are also picnic benches if you want to bring your own lunch.

Want to learn more about Luray Caverns? Read Luray Caverns Virginia What to Know Before You Go.

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Winchester, Virginia

Winchester, Virginia is a small town in Shenandoah Valley with a cute little downtown area called Old Town Winchester. The Old Town area is pedestrian-friendly with local shops and restaurants.

While in Old Town, make sure to check out the Shenandoah Civil War Museum located in the old courthouse. You will learn tons of history about the war in the exhibits plus see original graffiti left by Civil War soldiers jailed on the courthouse walls. The kids thought that was pretty cool.

Also located off of the Old Town Mall area is the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum. Here you’ll find a variety of interactive exhibits for the kids to explore. This would be a great place on a rainy day or for a change of pace from hiking in the National Park.

Staunton, Virginia

Staunton, Virginia is another cool historic downtown to explore while visiting Shenandoah Valley. Start out at the visitor center located in the downtown and pick up a self-guided walking tour of the area. This will give you a better understanding of the town’s history. Take a walk over to the train station bridge and walk up the hill for a great view of the city. Don’t worry, it’s an easy walk.

After walking around town, grab a quick lunch at The Depot Grille. It’s located in the old freight depot of the Staunton Train Station and is a family favorite. Kids will love drawing pictures that can be hung up on the walls of the restaurant.

Afterward, head over to Sunspot Studios and watch glass blowing demonstrations by local artisans as they make amazing glass creations. It’s really cool to see and free.

Other fun activities in the area are the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum and the living history museum at the Frontier Culture Museum.

Charlottesville, Virginia & Monticello

Want a fun day trip about an hour outside of Shenandoah Valley? Visit the family-friendly town of Charlottesville and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Both are only a half-hour apart so it’s easy to fit both locations into one day.

Charlottesville

In Charlottesville, you will find a fun eight-block historic downtown area. It’s one of the longest pedestrian malls in the US. Perfect with kids because there are no cars to watch for while they run around the open areas.

There is even a giant chalkboard for the kids to draw while you hang out in the courtyard. Stroll through the shops, have a bite at one of the many restaurants, and listen to a concert.

After visiting the downtown, take a scenic walk through the campus of the University of Virginia. Marvel at the amazing architecture designed by Thomas Jefferson including the beautiful Rotunda. There is also a cute little chapel with pretty stain glass windows to visit. Get all the details in my Charlottesville, VA Guide.

Monticello

You won’t want to miss visiting Thomas Jefferson’s mountain top home and gardens at Monticello. The home and grounds have been restored to give you a real feel of what it must have been like to live on this plantation.

They offer a great family tour of the home which is geared toward children and really kept my kids engaged. I would suggest doing this first and then roaming the property to see the kitchen, gardens, and slave quarters. We also took a tour of the history of Slavery at Monticello which was really interesting. Another tour option is a garden tour.

As you wander around, you will find a small farm shop built into the house to purchase a drink, ice cream, or small treat. Outside the shop, they have kids activities with games the Jefferson children would have played. This gave our kids a fun break from looking at the home.

Make sure to check out the cellar area nearby with more great displays on how the family lived plus the new exhibit on Sally Hemings and her relationship with Jefferson.

Once back to the Visitor Center check out Griffin Discovery Room. This area has great hands-on exhibits and activities for kids to learn more about the Jefferson family, including reproductions from the home and plantation.

Tip: If you are going during the summer months, you might want to book your tickets ahead or get there early in the morning. The tour times book up fast.

Find out more about the different Tours, Tips and Family Friendly Activites at Monticello.

Where to Stay

There are tons of hotels and camping options in the area around the National Park. We stayed at Massanutten Resort which had a great location right in the middle of all the attractions.

The resort is huge and offers several indoor and outdoor pools, golf, kids activities, a family adventure park, snow skiing, restaurants, and a water park.

We couldn’t believe how much there was to do just at the resort. Our unit was a condo with a kitchen and plenty of space to spread out. We stayed for a week which was perfect to fit in everything the area had to offer and the resort programs.

Find out more about all the activities and tips for your stay in our review of Massanutten Resort.

Visiting Shenandoah Valley is a wonderful trip for families. There is so much to see and do, you can easily fill up an entire week. Between Shenandoah National Park, Luray Caverns, Charlottesville and the fun local towns you will have more than enough to do. So are you ready to go? I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or other fun places to visit in Shenandoah Valley. Just leave it in the comments.

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Ultimate Guide to Shenandoah Valley Virginia. Perfect vacation with kids. Visit Shenandoah National Park, museums and Luray Caverns. Plus check out Winchester and Staunton VA two cute small town with lots to do. Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Skyline Drive. Plan your perfect family vacation. #travelwithkids #familytravel #nationalparks #traveltips
Shenandoah Valley & Shenandoah National Park Vacations. The best Things to do with kids. Tips on visiting the cool caves at Luray Caverns. Museums in cute towns of Winchester and Staunton Virginia. Perfect vacation for families

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Best Family Weekend Getaways from Chicago in the Midwest

Wondering where to go on a family weekend getaway in the Midwest? There are tons of fun family road trips from the Chicago area. You’ll love exploring all the great cities, small towns, beaches, state parks & more on family vacations for spring break, summer vacation, or quick weekend getaways.

My family and I have enjoyed visiting all the cool weekend getaways from Chicago and are excited to share which destinations you should visit next. It’s amazing how many awesome travel destinations are just a short drive from Chicago.

After reading this you’re sure to find the perfect weekend getaways from Chicago right here in the Midwest. So, keep reading to get inspired by our updated list of the 11 best family weekend getaways in the Midwest.

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Best Family Weekend Getaways from Chicago in the Midwest

Fun Midwest Road Trips & Weekend Getaways with Kids. 11 fun family vacation ideas just a short drive from Chicago. Find out why your family will love destinations like Indianapolis, St. Louis, Wisconsin Dells , Door County, Lake Geneva & New Buffalo MI. In Illinois visit Springfield & Starved Rock State Park. Plus don't forget the amazing National Parks too like Smoky Mountains & Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Start planning your next family Midwest getaway.

Let’s start planning where to go on your next next weekend getaway in the Midwest. Use this guide to decide on your next fun family getaway from Chicago whether it be a city, national park, or small beach town. Then get planning and create your family road trip bucket list.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis is located only 3 hours from Chicago and offers one of the best Children’s museums in the country. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is worth the drive down in itself! It hosts amazing exhibits for all ages of children with hands-on activities they will love.

While there, visit the great Indianapolis Zoo which houses Elephants (our favorite), dolphins, orangutans, and more. Then check out the super cool Conner Prairie, a historical museum with live people acting out the prairie life. Kids will love seeing how people lived years ago on the prairie and immerse themselves in that time period.

If the weather is nice, head to the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, a 100-acre outdoor sanctuary. It’s free and the kids can run around, hike, and get some energy out while you look at cool outdoor art.

Where to Stay in Indianapolis

Michigan – New Buffalo & St. Joseph

New Buffalo Michigan is a quick weekend getaway from Chicago for families. Beautiful beaches, cute downtowns and fun hiking.
New Buffalo Beach

What I love about going to southwest Michigan is how close it is to the city. It’s only 1 1/2 hours to New Buffalo from Chicago and is easily accessible by train for a quick weekend getaway from Chicago. You’ll find cute little towns dotting the coast and great beaches.

New Buffalo has a small downtown with several fun restaurants and a big public beach area. It’s a little quieter and laid back than St. Joseph. There are great wineries and blueberry picking in season too.

Want more action? Head a little further up north to St. Joseph. This town has the Curious Kids Museum and a pretty lighthouse you can walk out to and take pictures.

As you head to the beach at Silver Beach County Park, you will pass the Silver Beach Carousel and water pad area for little kids. There is also a great playground on the beach.

When visiting this area, make sure to check out the Warren Dunes State Park and try to climb the huge sand dunes.

Before you go read our cool Beach Hacks with clever ways to make a beach day with kids less stressful and more fun.

If you want an easy family hike, check out Galien River County Park and take a walk up into the treetops for great views or walk down a low boardwalk to the marsh.

There is so much to do and explore in western Michigan, your sure to have a great time.

Where to Stay in New Buffalo, MI

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Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva Wisconsin is a fun and kid friendly weekend getaway in the Midwest the whole family will love.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

You couldn’t get much closer than heading to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for a weekend getaway from Chicago. This cute town offers tons of fun activities for families year-round.

Take a hike on the Geneva Lake Shore path and gawk at the beautiful homes. Then head into the historic town of Lake Geneva to shop, have some lunch, and ice cream. You’ll love all the delicious restaurants in downtown.

While in downtown, check out the Geneva Lake Museum and the displays on the history of Lake Geneva. Inside, you’ll walk down a re-created street displaying how people lived in the area. It’s a fun way to get in some history and entertain the kiddos at the same time.

If visiting in warmer months, head to the beach or take a guided boat ride on the lake. Kids will love visiting Safari Lake Geneva a conservation ranch with over 50 animals from 5 continents.

In the winter months, try skiing at Grand Geneva Resort and visit Winterfest including Ice Castles in downtown.

Need more fun ideas? Visit my Top Things to Do in Lake Geneva Wisconsin.

Want somewhere fun to stay with the kids? Try Timber Ridge Resort with its own indoor water park and ski hill in the winter. It offers nice rooms for various sizes of families and fun family activities.

We also love to visit the Lake Lawn Resort located about 10 minutes from Lake Geneva on Lake Delavan. It’s been around for 140 years and has a great history in the area.

Obviously updated over the years, it offers a big indoor pool (kids love it), daily kids activities like laser tag & art projects, golf course, spa, and restaurants. You’ll really enjoy their wonderful family-friendly atmosphere.

Where to Stay in Lake Geneva

Free Printable Family Travel Checklist with everything you need to pack for family vacation. Be prepared to travel with kids with this handy printable checklist.

Door County, Wisconsin

We most recently visited this area for a fun weekend getaway from Chicago. I’ll admit it’s a little longer of a drive but so worth it to see this beautiful area packed with so many things to do for families.

Door County is not just one town but a collection of 15 cute towns on a peninsula in Wisconsin. You will find Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other giving you spectacular views of the lake.

Some of our favorite activities are visiting the State Parks, hanging out at the beach in Sister Bay, going to a fish boil (a must-do), wine tasting, visiting local museums, and checking out the small towns.

There is so much to see and do you could easily spend a full week up here and not see it all.

Want to learn more? Read Top 10 Things to Do in Door County Wisconsin with Kids to get more fun ideas for your visit.

Where to Stay in Door County

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

The Water Park Capital of the World is Wisconsin Dells. I am gonna be honest, the area is very touristy and a little cheesy but your kids are gonna love it!

You will find tons of amazing water park resorts in the area, each one filled with pools, slides, arcades, family activities, and so much more. Our personal favorites are the Great Wolf Lodge for their MagiQuest adventures and Wilderness Resort because of all the additional activities like laser tag, Go-Karts, ropes course, bumper boats, and a huge climbing playhouse.

If you are not looking for a resort, there are tons of smaller hotels and condos to rent, too. Take a look at all your Hotel Options to get a better idea.

Wisconsin Dells is a great weekend getaway at any time of year. You could stroll Downtown Wisconsin Dells to visit restaurants, shops, arcades, and museums all year long.

In the winter months, enjoy the indoor water parks, amusement parks, skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. In the warmer months, you will find an unending list of things to do. Try out their famous Duck boat Tours, zip-lining, horseback riding, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, water skiing shows, and so much more.

It’s a perfect family getaway for a weekend or even a full week. Get more ideas in my 30 Best Things to Do In Wisconsin Dells All Year Long.

Where to Stay in Wisconsin Dells

10 Cool Midwest Weekend Getaways with kids. Find great road trips for Midwest Vacations the whole family will love. Easy travel destinations from Chicago where you'll find family adventures in great museums, sandy beaches and beautiful hikes. Click to find out where these awesome destinations are! #midwest, #familytravel, #traveltips, #vacationideas

Starved Rock State Park

Located on the Illinois River Bluff in LaSalle County IL it’s only 1 1/2 hours from Chicago. But when you get to Starved Rock State Park you’ll feel like you’re in a different world with beautiful bluffs, canyons, and waterfalls. The cool canyons which you can hike down to were formed from glacial meltwater and look stunning. In the springtime, you will see waterfalls flowing over the canyon walls.

The park has 13 miles of trails to hike with many easy trails for children to hike with you. However, there are some steep drops so be careful with younger children. The park also offers camping, picnicking, fishing, and boating. Plan at least a half-day here to do 1-2 trails. If you have more time or a weekend you can explore the whole park.

Turn your state park visit into a weekend getaway by staying at the Starved Rock Lodge. The lodge is from the 1930’s era and is located in the park with cabins and hotel rooms. It would be fun to just wake up and head out to explore the woods together in this pretty setting.

Another option is to stay at the local water park resort Grand Bear Resort. It boasts a 24,000 sq. ft. indoor waterpark and has family suites and villas. The waterpark is not huge like in Wisconsin Dells but still fun. With the addition of a waterpark, you can hike in the day and let the kids swim at night.

While in the area you can also hike at Matthiessen State Park located across the river from Starved Rock. This is a smaller park but also has pretty hikes through caverns, streams, forest, and prairie. You will also get a better view of the locks driving into this state park.

A fun second day in the area could be a morning hike at Starved Rock then lunch in downtown Utica followed by another hike at Matthiessen State Park. You will also find several touristy restaurants outside of Starved Rock and there is an area to get sandwiches in the Visitor Center.

Utica and Oglesby are the closest towns to Starved Rock if you are looking for other hotel options and restaurants.

Springfield, Illinois

Springfield is filled with tons of history and fun for your family to explore. Start out by visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Next, get a feel for how Abraham Lincoln lived by visiting the only house he ever owned at Lincoln Home National Historic site. From there, stroll through the Bicentennial Plaza to the Illinois Governors Mansion and Illinois State Capitol.

In downtown Springfield, you will also find a great kids museum called Kidzeum of Health and Science Children’s Museum. It offers three floors of fun for the kids to get some energy out and explore.

Lastly, step back 200 years and walk the streets of a reconstructed pioneer village in Lincoln’s New Salem.

If you are looking for more museums in the area, there are tons. To name a few, the Illinois State Military Museum, Illinois State Museum (has a hands-on play area), Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation Museum, and Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Museum (civil war museum).

Want to explore the outdoors? Check out Henson Robinson Zoo, stroll through nature trails at Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, and Knights Action Park which has a water park, arcade, miniature golf, and go-karts.

I honestly was surprised how much there was for families to do while visiting Springfield. Turns out it is a great weekend getaway to keep the whole family busy and excited.

Where to Stay in Springfield

The Great Smoky Mountains

Visit America’s most popular National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains, and you will be in awe of the beauty. Your family will love hiking throughout the Smoky Mountain National Park and the Appalachian Trail.

There are perfect hikes and walks for all ages plus find great ranger-led nature and history walks for the whole family. The best part is that entrance into the National Park is free!

There is even a great scenic drive called Cades Cove which is an 11-mile loop tour where you visit restored log cabins, churches, a working mill, and beautiful scenery. This is a great option when the kiddos are too tired to hike but you want to see more.

Find a full list of Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains with Kids Here. Plus get tips on how to plan your trip.

Related Article – 15 Screen-Free Travel Games for Kids at Dollar Tree

Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge TN

The two biggest towns by the National Park are Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Gatlinburg is pretty touristy and the home to Ripley’s Aquarium, shops, and restaurants. You will also find Ober Gatlinburg, a four-season Mountain play area with an amusement park and ski area.

We went in the summer and the kids had a blast! Read 7 Fun Things to Do in Gatlinburg to learn more.

Pigeon Forge is the home to Dollywood and more touristy shops and restaurants. This is also a great place to stop while in the Smoky Mountains.

Looking for places to stay? We rented a cabin in the woods and really enjoyed being outside of the touristy town area. However, there are also tons of condos and hotels in town to rent. Plus there is always camping as an option.

Where to Stay in Gatlinburg, TN

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Did you know there was a beautiful National Park in Ohio? We recently discovered Cuyahoga Valley National Park and loved it. The national park is located between Cleveland and Akron Ohio and is perfect for weekend getaways from Chicago.

It is one of the newest National Parks in the US and was created to save the history of the lock system along the Cuyahoga River.

Some highlights of the park are an easy family hike to the scenic Brandywine Falls. Visiting two great visitor centers that explain the history of how the lock systems worked in the 1800s and the people who lived in the area.

But the biggest highlight for us was an amazing hike through moss-covered boulders that make you feel like your in another world. Your kids will love climbing all over these beautiful rocks and exploring the park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is different than most because you will find towns mixed in throughout the park system rather than being in a more remote area.

The bonus is you have easy access to lots of hotels and lodging in Akron and Cleveland. Plus your near restaurants and shops. This would be a great day trip too if you’re passing through the area.

Learn more about all there is to do and tips for your visit in Best Guide to Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Brandywine Falls.

Where to Stay in Akron and Cleveland

Related Article – 20 Tips to Make Traveling with Kids Enjoyable

St. Louis, Missouri

There are tons of attractions to see while visiting St. Louis, Missouri. A favorite of most kids is their awesome 600,000 sf City Museum, a mixture of playgrounds, funhouse, things created out of found objects, and architectural marvels. It’s a must-see in St. Louis!

Another great museum is the St. Louis Science Center to get your kids curious about atoms, oceans, dinosaurs, and dark matter. Check out the Old State Capitol and make sure to climb up the stairs to see the murals. Ask the Park Ranger how to make your voice rise to the top.

Want to head outdoors? Get out and visit some animals at the St. Louis Zoo. There are also beautiful gardens and 79 acres to visit at the Missouri Botanical Garden with both indoor and outdoor conservatories.

No trip to St. Louis is complete without a visit to the Gateway Arch. Take a tram ride to the top of the arch for great views, explore the new Arch Museum, and watch a documentary on how it was built. Learn all about the people who passed through St. Louis on their journey out west.

After visiting the Arch, head over to the river for a riverboat sightseeing cruise. Then head to the heart of downtown to explore the Citygarden filled with art and water features for the kids.

Lastly, if it’s baseball season, check out a Cardinals game. Even Cubs fans will have fun.

Where to Stay in St. Louis

Ultimate Family Travel Checklist to get you prepared for traveling with Kids. Everything you need to pack for your vacation. You'll never forget things again. #freeprintable #travelchecklist #travelingwithkids #familyvacation

Duluth, Minnesota

Have you been to Duluth Minnesota yet? It has been labeled the “Best Outdoor City in America”. Hike the outdoors with the kids, visit the beautiful lake walk and enjoy great food.

Find out more family-friendly outings in my friend Jen of Travelwithaplan.com blog Perfect 2 Day Family Getaway in Duluth Minnesota.

Where to Stay in Duluth

Family Road Trip Tips

Road trips tips for families on weekend getaways or family vacations.

Get ready for your road trip with our clever travel tips. Or visit our Travel Tips Page for even more ways to have a stress-free family vacation.

Dollar Tree Travel Games & Activities – Cheap travel games & activities to stay busy in the car, hotel room or restaurant.

No time to shop check out the best Amazon Travel Games & Gadgets for Family Road Trips. We love our cool travel tray for car trips.

Best Free Travel Apps – How to get there fast, find restaurants & hotels along your route, cheap gas and more.

Be ready for your Hotel stay with 20 Genius Hotel Hacks for Family Vacation.

Don’t leave without reading 15 Road Trips Tips to Survive Family Vacation.

Wondering Where to Stay

I am always searching the internet for the best hotel and lodging deals for our vacation. The site I am finding the best deals on right now is Booking.com.

They have competitive pricing, good pictures, and helpful reviews. Check it out and see if you find a great hotel deal.

Visiting friends or family & need cribs, car seats, or strollers? Don’t pack it all have it delivered to their door with BabyQuip. Our favorite travel hack from BabyQuip

Isn’t it amazing how many great family weekend getaways from Chicago there are? So, many different types of options in the midwest to choose from based on what your family loves to do.

You can’t go wrong with any of these family weekend getaways in the Midwest. So do you know now where to go on your weekend getaway with your family? I hope this has helped you with your planning!

Make sure to visit our Family Travel Destinations to get more great family vacation ideas and tips for easier travel with kids.

Do you have another great suggestion for family weekend getaways from Chicago? Please let me know in the comments or any other questions you have.

Need a Chicago Staycation Instead?

Feeling like you just need a Chicago Staycation instead? Here is the Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Chicago with Kids.

Or get inspired with things to do at home in our 40 Staycation Ideas for Families and 60 Fun & Free Things to Do with Kids Screen-Free. All will keep your family busy and happy while spending quality time together.

If you found this post helpful become part of the Happy Mom Hacks Community where we are finding ways to make a mom’s life easier. Sign up for our weekly newsletter and never miss another awesome family travel destination, household hack, or easy family meal.

Bonus – You’ll get our Free Printable Family Travel Packing List.

Free Printable Family Travel Checklist with everything you need to pack for family vacation. Be prepared to travel with kids with this handy printable checklist.

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10 Best Weekend getaways from Chicago for Families in the Midwest.  Great things to do on 9 different weekend getaways. Find fun water parks, National Parks, beaches, children's museum and more.  Road trips ideas kids will love suggested by real moms in the US. #weekendgetaway #familytravel #familyvacation #traveltips #midwest
10 Fun Midwest Vacations for Kids. Great weekend getaway ideas families will love. Great road trip destinations for anytime of the year. Check them out and get planning your next family getaway! #familytravel #midwest #weeekendgetaway #traveltips #traveldestinations
Best Midwest Family Travel Destinations Kids Love. Fun kids road trip ideas and weekend getaways for families. Find beaches, cool cities, National Parks and more. Learn which Midwest vacation destination is the best for your family any time of year.  #midwest #familytraveldestination #familyvacation #travelwithkids

Want More Great Family Weekend Getaway Ideas?

Family Travel Tips & Activities for Kids

Subscribe to Happy Mom Hacks Newsletter and have access to the Ultimate Family Travel Checklist. Plus great Mom tips and tricks and family travel ideas.
Best Midwest Vacations for Kids on summer vacations or weekend getaways. Fun Midwest travel ideas for families only a short drive from Chicago. Find beaches, National Parks, Museums, zoos and more cool things to do with kids. #midwestvacations #midwestweekendgetaways #familyvacation #travelwithkids #midwestdestinations
Best Family Vacation Destinations in the Midwest. Fun places to visit with kids from Beaches to National Parks all in a short drive from Chicago. Plan a great weekend getaway or full family vacation this summer. #familyvacation #travelwithkids #midwest #beaches #nationalparks
Fun Family Trips · Travel with Kids

15 Road Trip Tips to Survive Family Vacation

Are you getting ready for a road trip with kids? Make your family vacation better with these clever road trip tips & hacks. Don’t just survive your next road trip enjoy it with these simple to follow travel tips!

Use our road trip planner to prepare for traveling with kids. Then find fun games to play in the car, travel snacks, the best travel accessories, smart travel apps, and general road trip hacks to just make life easier.

These mom-tested travel tips are sure to give you a stress-free and fun family road trip.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

15 Road Trip Tips to Survive Family Vacation

Best Road Trip Survival Tips for Kids. Make your next family vacation stress free with these easy road trip hacks. Plus fun games and activities for kids. Make your next family trip one you won't forget. #familyvacation #roadtrip #summer #familytravel #travelwithkids

Packing Snacks

We all know that kids being hungry equals super crabby kids. Avoid this by bringing snacks they will enjoy eating while you drive.

I try to mix it up with something healthy and then some fun snacks cause hey, you’re on vacation, let them eat a few too many fruit snacks.

I usually pack a box of snacks I keep in the trunk but found a fun way for the kids to keep a few in the car seat next to them.  

15 Road Trip Tips for Traveling With Kids. Find the best travel tips for on a plane or riding in a car. Parents will love the travel hacks, games to play in the car and fun activites for kids. Make it a great family vacation with these fun & easy travel tips! #familytravel, #roadtrip, #traveltips
Travel Snack Containers for your Kids.

You know those plastic containers for wipe boxes you get with all those packages of wipes you buy? They are a perfect size container for car snacks.

Let the kids decorate them before you leave with stickers to get excited about the trip or give them stickers to decorate the box in the car. 

The best part you can regulate their snacks but they feel like they get a choice in what they eat. It’s a win win.

Fast Food Stops 

Most likely on a driving trip at some point, you will stop at a fast-food drive-through. So how do you feed the kids without it all spilling all over the car?

First tip: How to not spill the drinks without tops like the milk at McDonald’s. I bring with Sippy cups or water bottles with tops and pour the milk in to prevent spilling. No one needs the smell of spilled milk on a long car trip.  

Second Tip: Now how do the kids balance all their food without spilling? I have found two ways to prevent this. One, buy a shower caddy from the dollar store to hold their food on their laps.

Or two, what we personally like the best are these travel trays we bought off of Amazon a couple of years ago. I even use them on short car trips if we head to a drive-through fast-food restaurant. 

15 Road Trip Tips for Traveling With Kids. Find the best travel tips for on a plane or riding in a car. Parents will love the travel hacks, games to play in the car and fun activites for kids. Make it a great family vacation with these fun & easy travel tips! #familytravel, #roadtrip, #traveltips
This is our Travel Tray that we love.

These trays also work great for the kid’s travel activities such as drawing, playing games, or even watching the iPad.  

 

Keep your car clean 

So, now the kids have eaten and want to hand you all of their garbage. It drives me crazy to constantly be taking trash from them the whole trip.  How to fix this, give the kids their own garbage can in the backseat.

Take a plastic cereal container that has a flip-top opening and put a grocery store bag in it. This is small enough to fit in the seat and has a top so the garbage doesn’t spill all over. When you stop to get gas, throw out the bag add a new one. Easy Pease!

15 Road Trip Tips for Traveling With Kids. Find the best travel tips for on a plane or riding in a car. Parents will love the travel hacks, games to play in the car and fun activites for kids. Make it a great family vacation with these fun & easy travel tips! #familytravel, #roadtrip, #traveltips
Cereal Container Trash Can for Road Trips

Don’t want to make your own garbage can? Try this cool garbage container. It has a clip strap to attach it to a front car seat or center console in your car. It would be great strapped around the middle seat of a minivan too.

Worried about packing all that baby gear? Guess what you don’t have to with BabyQuip! This amazing baby rental company featured on Shark Tank will deliver everything to you.

Cup Holders 

Ever notice how dirty the cup holders in your car get? Crumbs and water from condensation on your drink just make a mess. This area can be so hard to clean.

Try putting reusable silicone cupcake liners in your cup holders. These are easy to remove and wipe down clean keeping your car a little more crumb-free. Or try these simple liners made for cars. 

Electronics 

The first thing not to forget is the chargers for all your phones and devices. I would also purchase a car charger that would work for the individual devices you are bringing on the trip.

No parent wants to hear the crying and drama when the iPad, games, or DVD player dies. 

Second, if you have any devices that need batteries, don’t forget to bring extra batteries. One year we forgot and the kid’s wireless headphones stopped working. We had to listen to their crazy cartoons for miles. Keep your sanity and pack extra batteries and chargers. 

We also found this cool Yoofan kick mat that holds your kid’s iPad and extra stuff like books. It made it easier for them to watch their shows and kept things more organized in the car.

Road Trip Travel Kick Mat to watch kids iPads while you travel.

Travel Apps

I love adding road trip apps to my phone while traveling. There are so many great apps to help you find hotels along your route, restaurants to stop at, and the best route to take when driving.

Check out our list of the top Free Road Trip Apps you’ll need on your next drive. If your traveling with kids or someone with food allergies make sure to get the app that finds restaurants along each exit. It’s a game-changer.

Ultimate Family Travel Checklist to get you prepared for traveling with Kids. Everything you need to pack for your vacation. You'll never forget things again. #freeprintable #travelchecklist #travelingwithkids #familyvacation

Dropping Their Toys 

Another frustration on car trips is all the dropped toys on the car floor.

Instead of having to bend and stretch your arm around the back seat to pick them up, bring a toy claw. The kids will have fun using it and it saves your arm from bending the wrong way.      

15 Road Trip Tips for Traveling With Kids. Find the best travel tips for on a plane or riding in a car. Parents will love the travel hacks, games to play in the car and fun activites for kids. Make it a great family vacation with these fun & easy travel tips! #familytravel, #roadtrip, #traveltips

First Aid Kit 

Buy or make a small first aid kit to throw in your car for those random cuts or scratches they somehow get while sitting strapped in a car. I really never understand how that happens but extra band-aids help.

Also if you have a child who gets car sick don’t forget some extra bags to give them when they’re nauseous. This might also be a great use of a second cereal container with a bag,

Travel Games

Busy Bags

Busy Bags for kids on Road Trips and Airplane Flights. Fun entertainment for family vacation.

Busy Bags are a great way to keep the car trip exciting. I know this takes a little extra planning and work but it is worth it for a smooth car trip. I buy some brown paper bags and put one fun little item in each.

These could be a small little toy, a new card game, or a new box of crayons and coloring books. I scour dollar tree to find a bunch of fun cheap items to fill their bags.

Deciding how often to give out these bags depends on how many bags you make and the length of your trip. You can also use them as motivation for good behavior on the trip.

No whining in an hour, you get to open another bag. It is amazing what a little motivation/bribery can do to make a great trip.

Find more ideas for Busy Bags and entertaining your kids on the drive in the Best Road Trip Games at Dollar Tree. Fun & cheap travel activities to keep kids busy the whole drive. 

Activity Box Filled with Games 

15 Road Trip Tips for Traveling With Kids. Find the best travel tips for on a plane or riding in a car. Parents will love the travel hacks, games to play in the car and fun activites for kids. Make it a great family vacation with these fun & easy travel tips! #familytravel, #roadtrip, #traveltips
This is our Activity Box we take on every driving trip.
15 Road Trip Tips for Traveling With Kids. Find the best travel tips for on a plane or riding in a car. Parents will love the travel hacks, games to play in the car and fun activites for kids. Make it a great family vacation with these fun & easy travel tips! #familytravel, #roadtrip, #traveltips
Here is how we use the container as a table too.

Stay organized on your road trip with a storage bin for all your kid’s car activities.

I bought a medium size bin that would fit in the middle seat between my kids. Whatever they want to bring on the trip needs to fit in that bin or the one backpack they each get to bring.

The bin will help keep things organized and from flying all over the place while we drive. It also works as a tablespace for them to play games together.

When you get to the hotel just bring the box in and the kids have toys for the hotel room too. Here’s another bin option if you’d rather an open box.

Travel Gadgets, Games & Activities

Save some money by shopping at Dollar Tree for these family-friendly travel accessories and road trip games. The best part when you lose them on the trip you only spent $1. 

Family Travel Games. Need to entertain your kids on your next trip? Pick up these 15 Dollar Store Travel Gadgets and Accessories for your kids. Save money and keep everyone happy using these travel hacks and ideas on your next family vacation. #DollarStore, #TravelHacks, #FamilyTravel

Don’t have time to shop? Use our favorite travel games, gadgets & activities from Amazon.  Find neck rests, ways to mount your iPad, magnetic travel games, crafts for the car and more. 

Best Travel Gadgets, Games & Accessories for Road Trips with Kids. Keep them busy and happy while you travel by car or airplane. Fun games for restaurants and hotel rooms too! Make it a great family vacation. #travelgadgets #travelgames #traveltips

More Road Trip Tips

Foot Rest

Want to keep your kid’s feet from dangling and just all-around more comfortable on the ride? Put one of the bags you packed below their feet so they can use it as a footrest.

Exercise 

You have been in the car for hours and the kids just need to get out and run. Take advantage of all the rest stops you see along the highways. Pack a soccer ball, bubbles to run after, or even a jump rope, anything to get them moving for a little bit.

It’s a great, free way to stretch the kid’s legs and give all of you a break from driving.  

Can’t find a rest stop where you’re driving? Look for a fast-food restaurant with a playland. Stop for a meal or even just an ice cream treat. Let the kids get that energy out climbing in the playland.

A half-hour stop might set you back a little, but the kids and you will be much happier. 

Here is an example of some of these active toys. I picked the dodge balls because they can inflate and deflate easily with the included pump. It’s great when you have a packed car with no space or if you want to throw them in a suitcase when you fly.

I have included adjustable jump ropes for your child’s height and bubbles. However, I also found these items at the dollar store if you have time to shop.

Saving Money on Food 

A great way to save money on food is to pack a lunch for everyone. Use your break time at the rest stop to also eat your lunch.

Most rest stops have picnic tables to eat at and restrooms to use. The kids can eat and run around at the same stop. If you stopped to order food it would take you just as long and this way the kids can get all that energy out  

Movies and Music 

Need some new movies for the trip but you don’t want to buy a bunch of new DVDs? Check out a few movies from your local library. Often times you can even download books and movies to your tablet from your local library for free.

Picking out movies to watch can be another fun way for your kids to get excited about the trip ahead of time.  

If you have Netflix or Dinsey + you can download shows to the kid’s iPads before you leave and they’ll work without wifi.

Need some fun music? We like to listen to Kids Bop CDs because they have fun songs you hear on the radio but a clean version we can all listen to. Who doesn’t love a road trip with the whole family signing?  

Hotel Hacks

Once you arrive at your destination make staying in a hotel easier with our Genius Family Hotel Hacks. How to baby proof your room, clean, eat, keep the sun out, play in your hotel room, and more. Simple travel tips for your hotel stay. 

If you’re not staying at a hotel don’t drag all your baby gear to your friend’s or family’s homes. Have it delivered to you by Baby Quip.

Our favorite travel hack that was featured on Shark Tank and has all the baby gear you need professionally cleaned and delivered to anywhere you stay.

So stop packing your strollers, pack n plays, high chairs, or car seats, and make your life easier by having them delivered by Baby Quip.

Finding your parking spot 

Last and final tip: Are you headed to a large amusement park like Disney or maybe a big national park?

Whenever you park in a large parking lot with lots of cars, take a picture on your phone of your parking area so you remember where you parked.  It’s a quick easy thing to do and a huge help when you’re all exhausted on your way home for the day.  

Travel tip - Take picture of the parking lot signs so you remember where you park.

I hope these road trip tips and games to play in the car will help make traveling with the kids easier on your next family vacation! If you need more travel tips or destination ideas visit our Family Travel Page.

I would love to hear any great tips you have found for road trips or any questions you may have. Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Want more to get more great family travel tips, destination ideas, family activities and more? Become part of the Happy Mom Hacks Community and get our weekly news so you’ll never miss a new idea.

As a bonus, you’ll get our Ultimate Family Travel Packing List

Ultimate Family Travel Checklist to get you prepared for traveling with Kids. Everything you need to pack for your vacation. You'll never forget things again. #freeprintable #travelchecklist #travelingwithkids #familyvacation

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15 Road Trip Tips for Traveling With Kids. Find the best travel tips for on a plane or riding in a car. Parents will love the travel hacks, games to play in the car and fun activites for kids. Make it a great family vacation with these fun & easy travel tips! #familytravel, #roadtrip, #traveltips

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11 amazing travel accessories and activities for kids on your next Family Vacation. These must have travel gadgets from Amazon will keep your kids busy on airplanes or on a road trip. Keep the Kids happy and have the best family trip!
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Hotel Travel Hacks for Kids and families.

     

Subscribe to Happy Mom Hacks Newsletter and have access to the Ultimate Family Travel Checklist. Plus great Mom tips and tricks and family travel ideas.

 

Unique Travel Tips for Family Road Trips. Be ready for an unforgettable car trip with the kids. Find the best travel apps to use, snacks to pack, activities for kids and more. Don't just survive your family vacation make it fun and stress free. #traveltips #roadtrips #familyvacation #travelwithkids #tavelapps #activitiesforkids

Fun Family Trips · Travel with Kids

Wilderness Resort Wisconsin Dells Review & Tips for 2021

Did you know the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells is America’s Largest Waterpark Resort? If you’re looking for a fun family getaway you’ll love Wisconsin Dells the “The Waterpark Capital of the World”. Here you’ll find not only amazing waterparks but also rides, attractions, and family fun.

The Wilderness Resort is one of the best resorts in Wisconsin Dells with the Wilderness Territory spreading over 600 acres.  The resort boasts both indoor and outdoor waterparks plus attractions that can keep your family busy for days.

We have updated this Wilderness Resort Review for 2021 to add in all the new special attractions, safety precautions, and updates to the resort. 

Follow along and get our tops tips for your visit, the best things to do, what to pack, and where to eat. Everything you need to know before you go to the Wilderness Resort.

Plus what you can’t miss seeing while in the Wisconsin Dells Area. Use this guide to plan your next family vacation.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Wilderness Resorts -Top Tips & Things to Do

Wilderness Resort Wisconsin Dells 15 Great Tips for Families. Check out one of the best hotels & lodges in Wisconsin Dells and find out all the cool things to do with kids. Looking for fun family vacations and weekend getaways? This is it! #wisconsindells, #wildernessresort, #familyweekendgetaway

General Information

The Wilderness Resort has so many fun activities perfect for all ages.

They do a great job of having a mix of older kid areas and younger kid areas located next to each other. This makes it a lot easier for families with kids of different ages to play near each other.

When the kids have had enough of the pools and slides, head to all the great indoor activities like 3D Mini Golf, Laser Tag, Laser Maze, Go-Karts, an Indoor Ropes Course, arcades, and the brand new Take Flight ride.

The combination of indoor attraction and waterparks are what puts this Wisconsin Dells resort over the top to make it such a fun weekend getaway any time of year.

Are you excited about going now? Your family is gonna love it! Follow along below as I give you my top Wilderness Resort tips for families.

Wisconsin Dells Wilderness Resort a fun Family Waterpark hotel with tons of indoor and outdoor attractions for kids.

Safety Updates as of 6/21

Guests who are not fully vaccinated are encouraged to wear masks when indoors or in enclosed areas such as shuttle buses and elevators.

Visitors do not need to wear a mask while eating in a restaurant or when swimming in the pools. You are also not required to wear a mask at the outdoor attractions but are encouraged to social distance. 

All guest rooms are being cleaned with disinfected utilizing hospital-grade cleaning products with special attention paid to high touchpoints. As an extra precaution, BIOPROTECT is being applied to rooms and general areas as an extra level of protection. 

Read more about BIOPROTECT and the latest safety updates at Wilderness Resort Covid-19 before you go.

Check into Wilderness Hotel

New Frontier Lobby of the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

The resort has now opened its brand New Frontier Lobby which is where you can check-in. Starting at noon on your arrival day you can begin using all the resort amenities. However, your room may not be ready till 4:00 pm.

If you cannot get into your room right away, start with the dry indoor activities like Laser Tag and Mini Golf first. That way you are not all wet when you have to go back to your car for your luggage and change in the bathrooms into your bathing suits.

There will be plenty of pool time after you get into your room.

Shorter Check-in Lines

Check-in lines can be long, so if you are staying in the condos, cabins or villas bypass the first check-in area you drive up to and follow the parking lot around to the Wild West Lobby entrance.

Most people stop at the New Frontier Lobby at the front of the hotel so the lines there are longer. Either way, you are getting back in your car after check in to park so it really doesn’t matter that it’s further away especially if it saves you time.

Wisconsin Dells Deals

Check Groupon for rate deals or other promotional sites like Travel Zoo. We found a great deal on Groupon that included unlimited Fun Passes for the indoor activities. This made a big difference in the price of our trip.

You will also find better rates if you can go during the week. Weekend prices tend to be higher. 

Related Article –  Best Downtown Wisconsin Dells Attractions

Room Location in The Wilderness Lodge

When booking your room, ask to not be on the second floor if you are in the main lodge.

The second floor is the hallway that connects all of the buildings and everyone takes it to get around the resort so it is loud and crowded all the time. We were on the third floor and it was quiet.

If you want to get out of the large hotel building try the condos or cabin options. It will give you more room to spread out as a family and you can take a shuttle to the resort when you want to go to the waterparks.

Subscribe to Happy Mom Hacks Newsletter and have access to the Ultimate Family Travel Checklist. Plus great Mom tips and tricks and family travel ideas.

Wilderness Resort Dry Activities

There are tons of great indoor and outdoor activities for your family to do out of the water. Indoors families can explore 10 different activities and find 6 great outdoor attractions.

Update – With the health restrictions some indoor attractions may be closed such as the climbing wall. Make sure to check before you purchase a Fun Pass.

Here are a few guest favorite Dry Activities. Find all of them at Wilderness Indoor Attractions.

Take Flight

Feel like your flying with this new aerial adventure ride located by the Frontier Lobby. Take Flight has 60 motion seats spread over 3 tiers. Guests will feel like their soaring like a bird over the American Wilderness taking in the spectacular views. This is a must-do on your next visit.

Northern Lights Sky Lights Ropes Course

Things to do in Wisconsin Dells

Walk on a tight rope and over bridges 30ft above the arcade on this thrilling challenge. Everyone is harnessed in for safety so you can enjoy climbing all over while feeling safe.

Lost Cabin Laser Tag

The Wilderness has updated their laser tag arena and it’s really cool. The new area has 3 levels and over 3,000 square feet of fun. It’s huge! Plus they’ve updated their laser guns to the newest technology.

This area is sure to be a family favorite!

Wilderwoods Indoor Go-Karts

Wilderness Resort Go-Karts

Need an adrenalin rush? Race the indoor Go-Karts around the 525 ft. long course. There is a height restriction to drive the karts. But kids 4 and older can ride with their parents so they don’t miss out on the fun.

Wild Abyss Indoor Mini Golf

Wild Abyss Min Golf at Wilderness Resort

Recently updated this indoor mini-golf is a black-light course with cool features to look at as you play a round of golf.

Wild West Bumper Boats

Fun Things to Do at Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Bumper Boats are a fun indoor activity for families.

Compete against family on indoor water bumper boats. Bump your boat into fellow riders and spray water as they pass by you. Although this ride is not technically dry it is included in the fun pass so I added it in.

Timberland Playhouse

Timberland Playhouse at Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells

**This area is currently closed due to health restrictions.

Timberland Playhouse is a huge indoor climber located in the Wild West Region and it’s FREE!

The playhouse has four stories of fun from slides to swings, tunnels, and bridges. They have designated this area for kids 12 and under. There is also a separate gated area for kids four and under.

My kids (age 6-9) loved climbing around this huge space and spent tons of time here. If your looking to save some money and are mostly at the Wilderness for the pools you’ll love this free activity.

Tips for Timberland Playland

  • One issue is it is hard for parents to fit in if they are chasing younger ones around the older area. So, most kids run around by themselves and the parents watch from the seats below.
  • The other issue is it is right by the arcade so if you don’t want to pay for arcade games, make sure to warn the kids ahead of time.
  • You can order food to be delivered to this area.

Outdoor Dry Activities

There are a few outdoor dry activities your family can enjoy in the summer months too.

Wilderness Canyon Zipline

Fly through the treetops over the lost canyon 60 ft. above the ground on a zipline. Guest will travel between 6 towers on this thrilling ride.

Lost World Jurassic Mini Golf

A fun 18 hole mini golf course with a dinosaur theme the kids will enjoy.

Go-Karts & Kiddy Karts

Race around an outdoor track on Go-Karts. This is a larger track than the indoor Go-Karts. Here you’ll also find Kiddy Karts the younger kids can ride too.

Nature Paths

Get out into nature by wandering the outdoor nature paths or along the water at Wilderland Park. In the summer months, you can even ride a horse-drawn wagon through the Wisconsin woods on the property.

Fun Passes

When checking in, they will ask you if you want to purchase the Fun Pass for the indoor activities. These are not included in your stay, only the pool access is included.

Wilderness offers two different levels of the fun pass. The regular Fun Pass includes one-time admission to several of their rides & activities. The Ultimate Fun Pass gives you unlimited admission. 

The Unlimited Pass costs $45.00 a day and the Fun Pass is $29.95 at the time of writing this article. Our kids did laser tag three times in a row all three days plus all the other activities so it was worth it for us to upgrade.

TIP: There are height restrictions on many of the activities so keep that in mind before you buy the pass. If you have younger kids who are too short, this might not be worth the money.

Towels for the Pool

Towels are provided at the pool area. When you check-in they will give you a towel card for each person. Every pool area has a towel desk to get towels and replace them when they are wet.

Tip: The towels are small so we replaced them after every use so we had dry towels after we got out of the pool. You could also bring your own towel if you prefer but then you have wet towels in your room at night.

Related Article: 30 Fun Things to Do in Wisconsin Dells All Year Long

Temperature Inside the Hotel

When using the indoor pools bring a light sweatshirt or robe to wear when you leave the pool and head back to your room. The hallways tend to be cool especially in the winter.

Family Dining 

The Wilderness Resort has 15 different places to eat. There is a mix of types of restaurants from ice cream parlors, lunch spots and sit down restaurants. Whichever area of the resort you are in you should be able to find somewhere to eat. 

Camp Social is the newest dining area in the Wilderness. It’s an updated food court area with a Burger Bar, Pizza, Hot Dogs, Candy Bar, Coffee Canteen, and Breakfast Bar. This is a great choice when you want to grab something quick.

Klondike Pizza will deliver pizza to you poolside or to your room.

If your looking for a sit-down experience there is a sports bar, Steakhouse, and an Italian restaurant.

Find out more about each restaurant at Wilderness Resort

Tips for Saving Money on Food

You will find food and drinks can get expensive. To help bring down the cost of food take advantage of the mini-fridges and microwaves in your room.

**Consider bringing breakfast food to have in the room.

**Bring snacks for the pool -They do have signs saying no food at the pool area but no one seems to check and everyone had tons of outside food at their tables. 

**Save on dinner by ordering a pizza. There is a Domino’s across the street or order through the Resorts Klondike Pizza Kitchen and have it delivered to your room. 

**Bring drinks for your room water, juice maybe even wine for adults. 

**Bring refillable water bottles so you don’t spend money buying water at the pool.

Refillable water station

In the Wild WaterDome Water Park, there are refillable water bottle stations so bring your water bottles from home with you.

Adults only Swim up Bar

When you need a break from the kiddos, the indoor wave pool area has an adults-only swim-up pool bar and hot tub. There is a security guard there to make sure no kids get into this pool area.

If you have kids that are good on their own in the wave pool, head over there for a break.

Mark your Territory

Go down early in the morning to save seats as it gets pretty crowded and hard to find seats anywhere to put your stuff down later in the day.

The other alternative is to rent a cabaña for the day. If you plan to stay in one area of the waterpark this will give you some extra space and a spot for your kids to find you.

Keeping Your Phone Dry

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The MoKo case I use at Water Parks

Most likely you will be leaving your stuff at your table while you go in the pools. I was worried about leaving my phone plus I wanted to take pictures of the kids in the pool so I brought a waterproof phone case.

It held my room key, credit card and phone. That way when we are away from the table for a while I didn’t have to worry.

Above find a picture of the Moto Case I used and really liked. You can hang it around your neck or use the Velcro arm band.

Check out

On check out day, you can stay and use the resort the whole day.

We took advantage of this by starting the day doing the indoor activities while we were dry. Then we went back to our room to change into our suits, checked out, and spent the rest of the day at the pool.

I will say the changing rooms are not great at the waterpark. They are located in the bathrooms and are just an open space at the end.

It is fine for kids but maybe awkward for adults. However, don’t let this keep you from staying after checkout. 

Lockers

They do have lockers you can use on the day you arrive or the day you check out to store some of your items. You may want to throw your purse or other valuable items in one to keep safe while you swim.

Wilderness Indoor & Outdoor Waterpark

Wild West Water Park play structure.
Wild West Water Park play structure.

There are 4 indoor and 4 outdoor pool areas to explore at Wilderness Resort. Each has a different attraction from slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, bumper boats, and little kids’ areas. 

For the indoor waterparks you do have to walk between buildings to get to them all. However each one is connected by indoor hallways.

I would suggest you choose a different time of day for each pool area rather than running back and forth. 

Wilderness Resort Wave Pool
Indoor Wave Pool

To learn more about each pool area visit the Wilderness Waterpark Page.

Waterpark and Resort Map

Looking for a map to get a better idea of how big this resort is? Click on this link Wilderness Resort Map

What to Pack for the Waterpark

Wondering what to bring with you on your trip to a water park? Here are a few things I would suggest. You can click the link to see the item I use for each category.

Make sure to grab your FREE Family Travel Packing List too so you don’t forget anything.

Free Printable Family Travel Checklist with everything you need to pack for family vacation. Be prepared to travel with kids with this handy printable checklist.

Goggles – Your kids will want googles for the pool. We love the speedo goggles as they are very durable with my rough boys.

Water Toys – Kids can use small water toys in the wave pool or swimming pool. Mine had a great time with these Toypedoes while waiting for the wave pool to start.

Dive rings are easy to pack and will give the kids another reason to jump into the water.

Beach Bag – You’ll want a beach bag to carry all your stuff down to the pool. Find one with lot of pockets to hold all your kids googles, toys, books, towels and everything else you need at the pool.

Things to Do in Wisconsin Dells

There are tons of entertaining things to do in Wisconsin Dells with kids outside the waterparks.

The Dells is located on the Wisconsin River and offers fun Duck boat adventure rides and scenic boat rides. Enjoy water shows on the lake in the summer and skiing in the winter.

You’ll find tons of Wisconsin Dells attractions from amusement parks, mini-golf, and arcades both inside and outside.

Get our top 30 Things to Do in Wisconsin Dells All Year Long and find out everything there is to do.

Hiking State Parks

HIking Devil's Lake is a fun thing to do in Wisconsin Dells for Families.
Devil’s Lake State Park

Devil’s Lake State Park and Mirror Lake State Park are both located only minutes from Wisconsin Dells.

Visitors will see beautiful views on family hikes. Plus you can go kayaking, fishing, play at the beach, and more. This is a great break from the touristy areas of Wisconsin Dells.

Downtown Wisconsin Dells

When you want a break from the resort head to Downtown Wisconsin Dells. A touristy stip that has tons of fun things to do for families.

It’s a cute street to stroll down and window shop or to pick up a few souvenirs. While you’re there you can visit Ripley’s Believe It or Not, go bowling, head to an arcade, ice-skate year-round, play laser tag or fight a dragon.

Located along the Wisconsin River you’ll find beautiful views walking along the Riverwalk. Or enjoy a boat ride to see the famous sandstone bluffs. Get more information about Downtown Wisconsin Dells Attractions and be ready to explore.

More Resort & Camping Option in Wisconsin Dells

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park Resort in Wisconsin Dells
Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge – What stands out at Great Wolf Lodge is their MagiQuest Game. It’s a really cool indoor quest the kids go on to find clues and complete different levels to slay the dragon. Plus they have a really fun water park and great indoor wave pool.

Fun Wave Pool at Chula Vista Resort outdoor waterpark for kids.
Chula Vista Resort

Chula Vista Resort – Has a more relaxed family setting located along the Wisconsin river it has beautiful views and paths to walk. The indoor waterpark is not as big as the others but it’s all in one room which makes it easier with kids.

Outdoors you will find a kiddie pool, wave pool, different levels of slides, and sports pool. One unique aspect is the Beach area where kids can dig in the sand while you have a drink at their outdoor tiki bar.

KOA Wisconsin Dells – This is another option if you like to camp, have an RV or want to rent a small cabin. It has an awesome location right by downtown Wisconsin Dells and tons of amenities like a pool area.

I hope these Wilderness resort tips will help you be prepared for a fun weekend getaway to the Wilderness Resort Wisconsin Dells. Once you visit a Wisconsin Dells resort your kids will want to come back over and over again.

Get ready to create great family memories at this fun family friendly hotel!

Let me know any great tips you picked up on your family trip or any questions you may have in the comments. I love to hear from my readers.

Midwest Family Getaway Ideas

There are so many fun family vacation ideas in the Midwest. Get inspired for more family vacations in 10 Family Friendly Weekend Getaways from Chicago. Your whole family will have a blast!

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Free Printable Family Travel Checklist with everything you need to pack for family vacation. Be prepared to travel with kids with this handy printable checklist.

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15 Tips for Wilderness Resort Wisconsin Dells. Find out why Families have so much fun at this resort between all the cool things to do like pools, arcade, go karts, laser guns and ropes course your family will love it. Be prepared for you trip with tips on where to park, which room to stay in, restaurants to eat at, activities to do and more. Plus things to do in Wisconsin Dells for Families #WildernessResort, #wisconsinDells, #familytravel, #familytrip, #traveltips

More Travel Tips & Ideas

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11 Awesome Things to Do in Door County Wisconsin with Kids. Know before you go the best places to visit for hiking, beaches, restaurants, Fish Boils, State parks and more.. Your family will find great things to do in the summer, fall, spring or winter. There is so much to do you love it for a long weekend or a full week family vacation. #Doorcounty, #Wisconsin, #familyvacation, #traveltips, #familytrips
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Best Things to Do in Naples Florida with Kids. All the can't miss attractions, beaches and restaurants. Find great shopping at Tin City and 5th Avenue. Checkout the wild life at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and the Conservancy. Check out my ultimate list of things to do in Naples! #naplesfl, #familytravel, #traveltips,
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